Precarious employment literature has addressed a myriad of occupations increasingly characterized by employment uncertainty and reduced commitment between workers and employers due to short-term contracts and self-employment, with particular attention given to creative industries and the gig economy in recent years. The authors argue that research on creative industries also requires consideration of the role of place in the experience of employment insecurity and career commitment. This article focuses on self-employed musicians in the mid-sized city of St John’s, Canada. Interviews with 54 musicians draw attention to coping strategies for long periods of low pay and employment insecurity. These strategies include downplaying competition and conflict, acquiring higher education and changing career. It is argued that population size and location of the community where work is based have implications on such coping strategies and on career longevity.