New York’s diverse music scene travels underground for Music Under New York, the program of MTA Arts for Transit & Urban Design that brings quality music to the commuting public. Established in 1985, Music Under New York presents over 7,500 performances annually in the MTA’s subways and railroads. More than 350 soloists and groups currently participate in the program, performing music in genres ranging from Aboriginal didgeridoo, bluegrass, and Brazilian jazz to traditional Chinese orchestral music, soul and klezmer.
Pentagram has designed a new identity for Music Under New York. Inspired by New York City Transit’s iconic subway signage, the new branding will be used to identify Music Under New York performers throughout the transit system. For the designers, the challenge was creating a brand that stands out in the frenetic transit environment. The existing Music Under New York identity featured an illustration of the city skyline with a subway train running underneath. The graphics blended into the visual cacophony of the subway stations and did not immediately read as being part of MTA. The new Music Under New York identity co-opts the familiar graphic language of the subway signage. The name is placed in the iconic circular symbols used for the train lines, and typography appears in Helvetica like signs in the stations. The identity employs colors not used by existing lines.
"Our new logo evokes a classic design identifiable throughout the world as belonging to the New York City subway," says Sandra Bloodworth, director of Arts for Transit & Urban Design.
The branding will be used at the 30 performance spaces within the transit system. The graphics will appear on a variety of applications, including t-shirts and hats for the musicians. The circles of the identity have been extended to the design of collapsible banners that performers can post at their locations and a silver mat that doubles as a "spotlight."