​Subway's got talent: Musicians compete for official busker spots

NEW YORK -- For as much joy as New York City street musicians bring their listeners, they are not always welcome. Which is why on Tuesday the Sunnyside Social Club was among the 60-plus acts auditioning in front of a panel of judges to earn the official approval of the New York City subway system.

Only a third of the performers will get the thumbs-up, giving them access to the most lucrative spots in subway stations, as well as paperwork to show the cops to make clear they're good to go.

"You can imagine that people can come and hear you and immediately be relaxed and be transported out of the subway, so they think they're somewhere else before the train comes," said Henry Prince, a judge for the competition.

The Sunnyside Social Club performs for a chance to get a prime performing spot in New York City's subway system CBS News

Prince, a subway musician himself, understands the power of subway performers to cut through the rush hour stress and lend a little joy to the daily commute.

"Someone once who was deaf wrote a letter to me, he said, 'you know I can't hear but the people around me were so happy when you were playing that I had to give you some money,'" said Prince.

Those selected Tuesday will join the 350 others New Yorkers sanctioned to provide the back-beat of the New York City subway.

Watch the video above to see highlights from Tuesday's competition.

  • Jim Axelrod
    Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.