Isabella Chon ’15 – Music Promoter

During her free time, Isabella is the Operations Coordinator at Gluestick Entertainment, a company which organises and promotes music in Hong Kong. She works with Elton Yau’11 which is the co-founder of Gluestick Entertainment. Together they strive to bring the best music culture to Hong Kong. Isabella shares with us what it takes to explore her passion for music while having a full time job…

  • Name: Isabella Chon
  • Graduating Year: 2015
  • Years at CIS: 7
  • College & Degree: McGill University, B.A. International Development Studies
  • Current city of residence: Hong Kong
  • Places lived before: Hong Kong, Montreal, Paris

Could you introduce yourself a bit (background & profession)? 

Hello I’m Bella, a recent graduate from McGill University in Montreal. By day I work full-time at Hypebeast as a Social Media Coordinator, and by night (or whenever) I help out with operations at Gluestick which is an event, talent and promotions agency aiming to bring the best music and Internet culture to Hong Kong.

What made you become interested in the music industry?  Did you know this is your passion back in high school? 

My interest in music really only surfaced when I moved to Canada for university. By then, concerts and live music experiences were both cheaper and more accessible so I was consistently exposed to artists and genres I liked. I then grew to love curating playlists and understanding how music intersects with culture and politics, like in hip-hop for example, which is a personal favorite of mine. But I’m not musically inclined at all. In fact, I can’t sing or even play an instrument so I definitely didn’t expect to be where I am now.

You work with fellow alum Elton Yau ’11 who is the co-founder of Gluestick Entertainment. How did you both decide to work for the same company? 

I graduated from McGill a semester early this January and decided I was going to use the extra time to explore career fields I was interested in. I noticed that Gluestick had organized a sold-out show for a rapper named Denzel Curry and that to me was a turning point in the local Hong Kong music scene. It piqued my interest because it was a sign that the city was being put on both the international concert and hip-hop maps. I then reached out to Elton (not even knowing he was a CIS alum) and Nick, our other co-founder, who kindly took me on board.

What do you find most exciting about your work? What were some of the biggest challenges or set-back that you had to face in the process of getting to where you are?  How did you overcome them? 

With Gluestick, I get to help plan and execute shows from start to finish and it feels incredibly rewarding and exciting that we directly contribute to Hong Kong’s growing music scene. It’s great to be able to organize experiences I wish I had back in high school too. It is, however, quite difficult to pursue a career in the music industry as it can be oversaturated and underfunded so it is common for people to start low. When I started helping Gluestick I was also working a music marketing internship at Billboard Asia. It was unpaid but it ended up being a great stepping stone for me.

What is your advice for any alumni looking to start a career in your field? 

I like to live by the 4 Ps – passion, patience, persistence, and perseverance. With regards to music event planning, I’d say it’s important to stay on top of trends and listener demographics, as well as knowing how to network.

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to find an overlap between music and tech, with the dream job right now being at Spotify. I’m also keen to explore something more music editorial related such as The FADER magazine.

What was your most memorable CIS moment?

It’s a tie between the class trips I took to India and Eastern Europe in Year 11 or having lunch with the same group of girlfriends every day on the 8th floor.

How did your CIS experience contribute to who you are today?

CIS taught me how to be worldly and introspective. CIS also taught me the value of relationships as I still hold a lot of my friendships from high school very close to my heart.

What was your favourite subject at CIS and was it related to anything you actually ended up doing?

History and nope!

Please read the following questions and write down the first answer to pop into your mind (3-second limit):

  • How do you relax after a hard day of work: If it isn’t obvious enough, I listen to music! Podcasts or a good book does the trick too.
  • Who was your favourite CIS teacher: Mr Caves cultivated my interest in history and in the field of humanities which I eventually studied more of at McGill. Mrs Chadwick was also an amazing and the most supportive Head of Year.
  • What do you wish you knew more about: Another language. I’d love to master the little bit of French I know or to pick up Italian.
  • What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives: Go to a concert alone! Not finding anyone to go with isn’t worth passing on a live music experience. You’ll either love it or hate it, but at least you’ll know.

Read more about Gluestick Entertainment and the co-founder Elton Yau ’11 here!