Musicians who perform for pay are seen in every city in the world, but the work of musicians is rarely framed as a practice which warrants sociological attention. Instead, popular culture discourse systematically focuses on the work of musicians by talking about individual artists, their ingenuity and their inspirations. People may view musicians as professionals, but this profession is rarely understood as a practice which has many layers and nuances. This study provides such an understanding by asking musicians who play gigs for a living in Calgary about what they do to survive as artists. Through in-depth interviews with sixteen individuals and ethnographic analysis of the various activities that musicians do, this study reveals the diversity of orientations and ways in which musicians do musician work, and the profoundly important social context in which musicians are able to sustain themselves as cultural workers.