This article explores the role that cultural intermediaries, defined primarily as radio DJs and journalists, play in the lives of three unsigned UK urban music artists. Using semi-structured interviews, textual analysis of social media usage, and observation notes, as well as auto-ethnographic examination of the author's own career as a musician over a four-year period between 2010-13, it is suggested that intermediaries are of crucial importance in the lives of artists largely as distinguishers in an environment of ferocious competition, which anonymises via abundance. Their role is therefore deeply symbolic, providing credible eminence. By interpreting these findings through a Bourdieusian lens, it is suggested that these collaborative processes of intermediary engagement, which allow musicians to acquire large reserves of institutionalised cultural capital, problematise notions of success by masking the profound difficulties they have in converting this prestige into material rewards. There is therefore, for these musicians, a worrying ambiguity relating to how others understand and value what they do, and a tension between this perception and their material reality.