A thriving alternative scene
With the Rock en Seine and Solidays festivals, tributes to Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg, the hugely popular concerts at Auber, the Paroles‘n’Rock campaign and, of course, the metro’s licensed musicians, the RATP’s commitment to supporting music is there for all to see.
The first ever cultural event to be staged in the Paris metro, 1977’s Métro Molto Allegro, was a musical affair. In 1989, in collaboration with an association of street and metro musicians, RATP gave permission to around one hundred artists to perform in the metro.
By 1997, so many musicians were showing an interest in performing that RATP decided to create a more substantial body to handle their applications, the Espace Métro Accords (EMA). To this day, the EMA continues to audition and select musicians – mostly semi-professional, sometimes professional – who are looking for a place to showcase their talent and fine-tune their repertoire.
Music without boundaries...
Since its creation, the EMA has received more than 10,000 applications, held more than 4,000 auditions and authorised more than 3,000 artists to perform in the metro. The musicians who perform in the corridors of the metro are as diverse as our passengers: all styles, ages, rhythms and nations are represented. Twice a year, in spring and autumn, the EMA auditions several hundred candidates seeking accreditation to perform in Paris’s metro stations. The successful applicants (around 350 new musicians are accredited each year) agree to play only in authorised locations (in the corridors of metro and RER stations) and to follow the rules set out for them. These auditions allow young artists to find an audience and fine-tune their repertoire.
The musical partnerships developed by the company offer the most talented performers the chance to showcase their abilities live on stage at major music events, such as the Solidays festival (on the “Jeunes Talents” stage) or the Art Rock festival in Saint-Brieuc. For some of them, it could be the first step towards a brilliant career. After all, many of the music stars of today started out in the metro, including Alain Souchon, Manu Dibango, Jacques Higelin, Touré Kunda, Dany Brillant, Ben Harper, and, more recently, Laâm, Anis and William Baldé. In late 2008, Keziah Jones even returned to his former stomping ground for several special surprise concerts.