Online remix competitions focus strongly on community interaction, creative production and sharing, and can be seen as manifestations of an emergent musical participatory culture within which participants collectively generate and rework cultural content. This article engages in a theoretical exploration of the ways in which participants of online remix contests collectively discuss and exchange different takes on a single song, and how they appraise small similarities and differences in these derivative works. The concept of the small creative act offers a heuristic lens through which to investigate online participatory remix practices. Examples from a recent ethnographic study of the international IndabaMusic.com online remix platform illustrate how online remix contests enable the development of aural discernment through novel forms of access to the field of musical works, encourage growth into expertise through a collective and participatory form of appropriation and provide the means for making meaningful differences through the constant repositioning of oneself relative to others in the remix community. Finally, the article discusses the implications that practices based on the idea of the small creative act have for learning to compose in online remix communities.