MTL Busking Handbook (Part 2: Rules and Regulations)
Rules & Regulations (via MusiMétroMontréal)
For those looking to busk, there are 57 busking spots around Montreal’s metro stations. Some require a metro pass to access while others can be accessed before the station’s turnstiles. Of these 57 locations, 7 busking spots are reserved for members of the “Étoiles du Métro”. In Part 1 we gave a few tips to busking around the city; this article will detail the rules and etiquette of STM busking. Part 3 provides additional information on programs supported by the STM (Société de transport de Montréal) and MusiMétroMontréal, (MusiMétro).
Please note for the following rules and regulations: a group (3 musicians or more) have no more or less rights (and obligations) than a solo musician. That being said, some regulations apply solely to solo musicians. A duo/duet is regarded as a single entity in these cases.
1. SIGN UP
(a) Busking spots are indicated by a wall-mounted panel displaying a lyre, as seen above.
(b) The first musician to arrive at a busking spot must start a list on a sheet of paper and write down their desired time slot in order to reserve that time. They must list the date, his/her reserved time and the name of the performer(s). If you have an MusiMétro card you may write down your card number instead of your name. The list must leave sufficient space for other musicians to reserve spots. The list will then be placed between the wall and the lyre sign.
(c) All sign-up lists are valid for a single day, and the list must be created on the same day it applies to, with the exception of Berri-UQAM station. Once the metro closes for the day, the list becomes ineffectual and is replaced by a new list created the next morning. This can be done at any point once the metro opens (around 05:00).
(d) Berri-UQAM station has four spots for buskers. Unlike other stations, time slots and busking spots are assigned through a draw held at 23:00 the night before. Musicians’ MusiMétro cards (or IDs) are placed in a bag and the musicians present take turns pulling names out of the bag, determining the order of performances for each spot. This draw is done in the corridor of the St. Denis exit (every night at 23:00).
(e) Any remaining slots at Berri-UQAM from the draw may be reserved the next day through the usual list format, by people who did not attend the draw the night before.
(f) You cannot reserve multiple time slots at the same spot over one day. However, you can reserve multiple spots in the same metro station so long as you honour each of your reservations.
(g) You may occasionally encounter multiple sign-up lists behind one lyre sign. This is often because of multiple busking spots in one station, and other lists concern other spots in case of a discrepancy.
(h) You may not reserve spaces for other musicians, unless you have official authorization from the president or executive committee of MusiMétroMontréal.
(i) If you encounter any problems or conflicts with others while playing, you can contact the STM security: (514) 280-4835.
2. RULES OF PLAYING
(a) Security regulations dictate that all equipment must stay within 2 meters of space (length-wise) and 1.6 meters from the wall. Equipment must stay behind the performer.
(b) Musicians must not perform directly underneath the lyre panel so other musicians may access the sign-up list(s).
(c) Time slots begin at 07:30. They are 3 hours long for Northern stations and 2 hours at all other stations. Northern stations are between Snowdon and Côte-Vertu, and between Laurier and Montmorency. The length of the time slots at that station must be reiterated on the sign-up sheet.
(d) You cannot reserve or perform at “Étoiles du Métro” spots, unless you have passed the “Étoiles du Métro” auditions. These spots will be indicated by a sign reading: Étoiles du Métro.
(e) A musician signed up for the the first time slot of the day may begin playing as early as 06:00, so long as it’s permitted at that particular metro station. Please clarify with an STM official that this is okay beforehand.
(f) If a musician is more than 30 minutes late to their reservation, their reservation is lost. His/her space then becomes free to any musician who would like to perform until the next reservation starts. This rule does not apply to “Étoiles du Métro” spots.
(g) If a musician anticipates being late by no more than one hour, he/she must indicate the expected time of arrival on the list next to his/her name. If the performer would like to leave for a 5 to 20 minute break during their reservation, they must indicate this on the sign-up sheet as well.
(h) Musicians may not adjust their time slots after signing up, and they cannot encroach on others’ reserved time without exception.
(i) Some stations do not allow performance between 16:00 and 18:00 due to intense traffic. These stations are…
(j) Some stations ask that you play especially quiet. These stations are…
Ethical Conduct (via MusiMétroMontréal)
(a) MusiMétroMontréal states that performers inside STM metro stations must accept their responsibility as role models to local commuters of all ages. They must use their talent, demeanor and attitude to project a positive public image, making an effort to promote pleasure, happiness and joys of music.
(b) Performers must present themselves in a clean and appropriate state of dress.
(c) Consumption of drugs and/or alcohol is prohibited.
(d) Musicians may not sit directly on the floor. You may stand, bring something to sit on – a chair or a rug, but for reasons beyond our understanding, not a newspaper.
(e) Following this positive projection of musical expression, politeness and a sense of respect must be maintained towards other musicians, commuters and employees of the metro station(s) at all times.
(f) If a gathering crowd begins to obstruct the flow of local commuters, the musician must stop playing and ask listeners to disperse in order to allow other commuters to pass.
(g) Performers are not permitted to use power outlets at the STM metro stations. This will penalized by a hefty fine. Therefor, all amplification and electric instruments must be battery powered.
(h) The use of shrill, irritating or loud instruments may result in the musician being asked to leave or stop using those instruments at most metro stations. Sound levels must be kept at an appropriate volume.
(i) In consideration of nearby employees or vendors, musicians must perform a varied repertoire of songs that is at least half an hour in length.
(j) All performers must respect directives given by officers of the metro. They must respect the rules and guidelines issued by the MusiMétroMontréal and its representatives. Lastly, they must respect regulations established by the STM. Buskers must follow the same set of rules as commuters, and regulations affecting musicians in particular are: Réglement CA-3 (specifically articles CA-3 13.01 and CA-3 13.02). For more information, check out MusiMétroMontréal‘s website.