Dance music superstar Deadmau5 and the improvising guitarist Derek Bailey represent, through their writing and practice, two very different approaches to performing live. By critically considering the practice of live coding in relation to these divergent approaches, we discuss live coding with regards to where the liveness lies and how the laptop and software are treated as a musical instrument. Each practice uses the laptop as a musical tool in a very different way. Live coding uses the laptop as an instrument in a manner that draws upon the techniques and strategies of free improvisation, in contrast to Deadmau5’s notion of laptop as playback device and the live performance as spectacle. We discuss Deadmau5’s practice in relation to Francisco Lopez’s notion of the possibilities of electronic performance, and ideas about labour and liveness.