This article addresses an interpretive gap in the creative industries as social policy literature. To date researchers have considered how contemporary governance formations enable artisans into markets and how state maintenance functions are reconfigured through creative industry workfare programmes. Drawing on research of state involvement with New Zealand's music industries it is argued that these supports evince another older form of social inclusion where Bismarckian status orders are reproduced through hybrid state-music industry hierarchies. Considering most aspiring musicians also work in the flexibilized service sector, these music policies unintendedly allow for the inclusion of large numbers of artisans in a national cultural project which supplies meaning beyond their labour market position. Such hierarchical structures give form to fluid identities while also enabling struggles over social esteem to be played out; all for a small entry in the national budget.