Increasing attention is being paid to how workers in the creative industries negotiate transitions from amateur to professional status and seek opportunities for work and spaces for expression that suit artistic desires. The settings have usually been large cities with populations that can support diverse and specialised audiences and subcultural scenes. In this paper, we discuss research where we participated in a music scene, and talked to dance music disc jockeys and venue owners in a small, regional university city - Dunedin. In Dunedin opportunities for musical work are comparatively plentiful but are constrained in a number of ways. Disc jockeys negotiate audience demands, distances from key musical centres and associated infrastructure, and the shifting venues available for performance. We emphasise the importance of an ethnographic perspective to the study of musical work that remains attuned to the manner in which urban spaces are created, transformed, challenged and remade in the musical nightlife economy.