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The New Bosses 2022: Jonathan Hou, Live Nation

Continuing a series of interviews with the 2022 New Bosses, IQ speaks to Jonathan Hou, senior director of talent and touring at Live Nation (APAC)

By IQ on 27 Oct 2022

Jonathan Hou, Live Nation APAC

Jonathan Hou, Live Nation APAC

The 15th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous New Bosess 2022 interview with James Craigie, a promoter for Goldenvoice in the UK. The series continues with Jonathan Hou, senior director of talent and touring at Live Nation APAC in Taiwan.

A Taiwanese-American born and raised in Houston, Texas, Jonathan got his start in the music industry working as an intern at Live Nation while studying music business at The University of Texas at Austin.

After college, he moved to Taipei to work with B’in Music, touring internationally with the Taiwanese rock band Mayday. In 2014, he re-joined Live Nation and has since worked with the company in multiple markets, most recently in Shanghai, China.

Jonathan now works on booking talent for Live Nation’s APAC division, building tours for international artists across the region.


You’re a long way from Texas. What’s the thing you miss most about living in America?
Being in close proximity to family and friends. I think the biggest sacrifice that many of us expats have to make is the time that we spend away from home. Due to Covid, I was unable to see my family for almost three years.

Were you able to speak Mandarin before making your move to Taipei? And how have your language skills improved (do you speak any Hokkien)?
Growing up we would speak Mandarin at home, but I still had a huge learning curve when I first started working in Taiwan. Additionally, even after having worked in Taiwan, there was another learning curve when I started in Shanghai, as the terms and characters that Mainland China (Simplified Chinese) uses is different from Taiwan (Traditional Chinese).

There was definitely a lot of Google Translate used in the early days, but I’m proud to say that my language skills have now improved to a point where most people are unable to tell that I am a foreigner. I can understand some Hokkien, but unfortunately am not fluent… yet.

What about the cultural differences between promoting in the USA and across Asia – what’s the most important lesson you can impart to visiting ‘Western’ acts?
Asia can often be treated as one region, but each market is unique with its own cultures. It’s important to know what the cultural sensitivities are before performing in every market. For example, something that may be well received by fans in Bangkok, may not be so well received in Shanghai.

“Asia can often be treated as one region, but each market is unique with its own cultures”

How did you land your job at B’in Music – did you have to fly there for an interview, for example?
I was in Taipei interning for an indie record label at the time, and through some of the contacts I had made at my internship at Live Nation, I was able to set up a meeting with Julia Hsieh, the COO of B’in Music who also manages Mayday. We met at the backstage of a festival and talked briefly. Two weeks later, she called and offered me a job to tour with Mayday across Europe and North America, and the rest is history.

Asia seems like it will be the next region to really explode in terms of live music business growth. How would you lure fellow professionals to the region to help facilitate that growth?
Asia is the place to be if you’re looking for a challenge and an adventure. The next couple of years are going to be great growth years for the live music industry in Asia, and it’s exciting to be able to be a part of shaping the industry.

And what about the artists? How do you persuade acts and their representatives to invest the time to tour in Asia?
We have a lot of very passionate fans in Asia that cannot wait to see their favourite artists perform. Fans in Asia do not take shows for granted, as it is not guaranteed that an artist will bring their tour to Asia. Also, we have seen over the years that artists that do invest and tour Asia early in their careers have been able to build large, loyal fan bases here, and the pipeline for the next couple of years is huge.

“Artists that do invest and tour Asia early in their careers have been able to build large, loyal fan bases here”

In a non-Covid year, how extensive can the tours that you book be, in terms of cities, venues, and potential new fanbases?
Our most extensive tours in a non-Covid year would typically range around 12-13 shows across 8-9 countries, and this would be for artists of all sizes from club- to stadium-level acts. Moving forward, there is potential for tours to expand even more once all markets open their borders, especially in China, and additional opportunities as new markets open up for touring, such as Vietnam. For some artists it may be possible to do ten or more shows in China alone.

Do you have a mentor or someone you rely on to turn to for advice?
I have two mentors that have helped shape my career, Julia Hsieh (B’in Music) and Dennis Argenzia (Live Nation). Julia taught me a lot of the fundamentals when I first started out in the industry, including how to market an artist/show and how to build a tour. Dennis, who I’ve worked with now for seven years, has taught me everything I know about booking talent and promoting shows.

Is anyone else in your family involved in music – or do they all think you are crazy for your choice of career?
We’re a family of classically trained musicians, so music is in our blood. My family has always been supportive of my career in music, and I am very blessed for that.

“I want to continue to be a bridge between Asia and the West”

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
There are too many to choose from as I think every experience is unique, and I love what I do. However, the top three that stand out are promoting Mayday at Madison Square Garden (first ever Chinese band to perform at MSG), promoting Madonna’s first-ever show in Taipei, and booking keshi’s first Asia tour.

As a New Boss, what one thing would you change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
I believe we’ve already made strides with the emergence of 88rising and artists such as keshi over the past couple of years, but I would like to continue to see more AAPI representation throughout the industry, globally.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I want to continue to be a bridge between Asia and the West. I’d like to work on building bigger tours for international artists across Asia, which would entail developing more markets across the region. I would also like to be working on exporting Asian artist tours (not just K-pop) to other parts of the world.


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