This article aims to contextualise music as it was experienced in Tehran in 2004 (when the research for this work was conducted) - music that comes from various ethnic groups within Iran, and music coming from the diaspora. The relationships between various genres of music and people, as well as between music and the government, are examined. The malleability of musicians and their capacity to coordinate their expertise with popular and governmental expectations and limitations are then analysed. In this way, a fascinating yet little studied area in the anthropology of Iran at the time of research is addressed.