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Is busking on the NYC subway more lucrative than streaming on Spotify?

Is busking on the NYC subway more lucrative than streaming on Spotify Hopes&Fears flow Economics


Members of BornFree Music Group, a group of young artists who perform on the Grand Central/Times Square Shuttle itself, explained this to me in unambiguous terms. “We busk because that’s how we make our money to survive,” they wrote over e-mail. Their entire income is dependent on the fifteen to twenty hours a week they spend on that train and the gigs they occasionally book as a result. “It depends on the day,” they said, “but we could make somewhere between $50 to $200.”

Segbefia sees similar numbers when playing between 7:00 am and 10:00 am and then again from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The same is true for Ruiz, who estimates he earns between $100 and $200 on average when playing at Union Square, Herald Square, or near the A train at Port Authority.

Jason Cordero, an eighteen year old pianist who regularly plays an electric keyboard at Times Square and the same high-traffic stations frequented by Ruiz, makes about $180 during the three hour time slots in which he performs three times a week. “I’d rather play for three hours and make that much than work in a different place and make $10 an hour,” he says. 


According to our survey, an average busker makes around

$107 in three hours


Between 12,738 to 17,833 streams on Spotify


Working 12.23 hours at a minimum wage job

Stashed in: Business Facts, Music, New York, Music Industry, Spotify

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So the short answer is: YES. 

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