That parking thingy looks uncomfortable to sit on.
courtesy Jonathan Li

Calgary-raised musician knows all about the business

Publication YearIssue Date 

Calgary songster/guitarist Jonathan Li knows how to mix business and pleasure. The soon-to-be Haskayne graduate is becoming a big name in the Calgary music scene all while getting a sound fiscal education.

Li's aspirations of becoming a guitarist were sparked when his junior high school social studies teacher used guitars to spark interest during class. After starting at a new school, Li pursued his interest and eventually studied with jazz musician Ralf Buschmeyer and vocal coach Brian Farrell. A new opportunity opened up to the budding artist when he started attending the University of Calgary.

"There's a club at the university called Busking for Smiles," Li explains. "I've been involved in that for the last four years. I started out just playing at the open mikes and the different shows at the den and other stuff. We played a few times at That Empty Space before Busking for Smiles and we decided to do the Boris-Roubakine Recital Hall."

Since his campus involvement, Li has been playing shows all over the city, immersing himself in the tight-knit and burgeoning music community. He says he's made some great friends and jamming partners along the way, as well as established himself in a group that prides itself on supporting each other and their pursuits.

"Playing for the last couple of years, it's surprising how many actual bands there are in the city," he says. "I can walk into any venue and see someone I know on stage or see three or four acts I know watching the show."

Though he's become entrenched in his musical path, Li says that his business school experience has, surprisingly, proved invaluable in moving toward his goals.

"I decided to go with the safe degree first so I'd actually have a job that would allow me to pay for my music," he says. "Otherwise, I'd have no idea how to do it because we really don't make that much money, but we do it because we love it. Business applies everywhere at the end of the day, even though I love music and you can still profit or something of the sort."

Now that he's almost out in the workforce, Li has some more time to focus on developing his career and consider his future. Though he admits that it's hard for anyone to do well in music, he's already planning his strategy for success.

"[I'm focusing on] growing a fanbase," he says. "I've been taking things online. I have a small blog right now but I've been working on starting a larger video blog and talking to the fans everyday. For the future, I hope to play more shows and come out with a second album. My next album's going to be a lot more alternative, a lot more rock. I'm hoping to play a large show or a festival or two."