Meet Christian J Young: Social media maverick and the founder of Clubhouse Media Group

Social media has seemingly changed how we do everything nowadays, from how we socialize and connect to, to how we shop or, to how we entertain ourselves. 

At the center of all of this is the rise of the “Social Media Influencer” and the explosive growth of so-called “Tik Tok Houses”, where content creators live and work together under one roof in hopes of building larger followings through collaboration and networking.  Just months before the Pandemic, and seemingly out of nowhere, one of the most influential content houses, the “Hype House” blew into the scene.  With members that are now household names such as the D’Amelio sisters, Addison Rae, and many others, the ensuing pandemic seemed to create a perfect storm as the world stayed indoors and consumed more digital and social media content than ever before.

It was during his time as a student at USC, in the part time MBA program, that Christian rekindled an old hobby of his – photography and videography, and launched a travel blog site named “The Young Travelier”, which helped readers learn how to travel and eat around the world, whether they were on a budget, or wanted to go all out.  Young learned the in’s and out’s of being an “Influencer”, negotiating free trips and paid gigs in exchange for creating content for Hotels, Luxury Brands, and Tourism Agencies.  Despite initially slow success and few followers, over the course of a few years, Christian developed a niche following and was awarded with accolades from Youtube and Instagram, with the official right of passage of being “Verified” on both platforms.  Valentine Kameza, director of Marketing & Communications for the Southeast Asian Anantara Hotel Group, related to us that she was especially excited to work with Christian because not only did he develop incredible content for their properties, but that he was quick to share marketing knowledge and experience that he had learned through his years.

In late 2019, after having traveled to over 50 countries in two and a half years, and spending over 150 days a year on the road, Christian decided he was a bit burnt out and needed a break.  “It was unsustainable, I was missing friends, family, birthdays, and was exhausted and worn out from all the travel.  At first it seemed like a dream job, and everyone I knew would wax poetic to me about how lucky I was to be able to do what I was doing, but ultimately I was a small operation - and running around carrying 50 plus pounds of camera equipment and having to wear all the hats of shooting, editing, and deal making at the same time took a lot of the fun out of what I was initially passionate about doing”. Although Christian had landed a job with another Venture Fund and had also founded a Hospitality Group in Hawaii, he was determined to continue working on his passion as a creator in some other manner.

Soon thereafter, Young changed direction and started developing content that revolved around cooking and gear reviews.  A self-proclaimed foodie and gearhead, Christian started a Youtube cooking series and went to work collaborating with other Influencers in the space.  In a serendipitous moment, one of Young’s first Youtube episodes during this pivot was with now household name Daisy Keech.  “At the time I was searching for other creators to collaborate with me, and one of my first ideas was to work with someone from the fitness space as I was transitioning my Youtube channel, and someone suggested that I work with Daisy, whom at the time was just starting her own Social Media career.  We agreed to do a video where she taught me a simple hotel room style workout and in exchange I would teach her how cook a sort of hopped up version of her favorite dish – roasted chicken”.  In the middle of filming this session, Daisy and Christian chatted about their various pasts and when Keech learned that Christian was a former entertainment lawyer she asked him to look over a management contract that she was about to sign.  The contract turned out to be unconditionally restraining on Keech, and led Christian to realize that the burgeoning Social Media space was still in its infancy, with creators that had no idea how to navigate the waters. “I was really grateful that I didn’t sign that contract, and that I got the advice that I did from Christian” Keech remarked.

Fast forward a few months later, and Young and Keech kept in constant contact, with frequent coffee and lunch dates so that the two could catch up and exchange ideas. “I was excited to see how fast Daisy was growing her passion, and having been an advisor for multiple Venture Funds, it was fulfilling to be able to help dispense advice.” As Daisy’s popularity leapfrogged and she was quickly turning into a veritable Social Media Star.  By the Fall of 2020, Keech’s business grew so much that she asked Christian to be her manager. “I was certainly honored, but was unsure if that was something I wanted to do, because I knew it meant I would be giving up content production, but I was also excited at the prospect of working in this industry on sort of the other side of the table.  Keech convinced Christian stating to him, “Lets try it out for 30 days, if it works out then lets make it official”.  Chistian remarked that he had done this transition once before, from being an e-commerce company co-founder, to being an investor at a Venture Fund, “so I felt relatively confident that because I could run businesses from both sides of the table, and with my background being in entertainment law, I was going to be able to add some value to Daisy’s career”.  As Daisy’s career hockey-sticked, by the end of the year, Keech went on to co-found the now – in the history books “Hype House”, which made headlines in the New York Times as the place where the most popular Tik Tok Influencers lived and worked together.  Young remarked, “I remember having no idea at the time how popular this new endeavour was going to be for Daisy and for the Social Media World, but in the back of my head I knew something special was going on here”.  During the next few months, Christian worked with Daisy at the Hype House, helping put together marketing deals and also managing and brokering business for the Hype House members, along with taking on Daisy’s best friend Abby Rao under management. 

At some point near the beginning of 2020, things started turning a bit sour, as the co-founders at the Hype House had an internal dispute and Daisy decided to go out on her own.  “I remember being approached by this real estate investor who had his own content house called the “Click House”.  We met with Amir Ben-Yohanan who had started this other content house, and he proposed to invest in a new company that would be co-founded with Daisy and I”.  After a few weeks of deliberation, Daisy decided she wanted to move forward on it, and by mid March COVID came along and before everything in Los Angeles went into lockdown a business plan was formed.  “I had been following the space for such a long time, and saw that the traditional talent agencies were going full digital.  I saw all the businesses that large influencers were building, remembering that one of the first influencer’s I had ever worked with when I was building my first E-Commerce brand “BesoBeso” – Chriselle Lim and Michelle Phan, had since built massive beauty and makeup brands around their names over the past 10 years.  In my mind, I felt that the content house served as a sort of physical studio and incubator space for Social Media Influencers to mingle and build businesses, and that we could be the backend provider to help give structure and help them thrive.”  Christian quickly employed a few of his closest friends and mentors and co-founded the Clubhouse Media Group.

By the middle of 2020, Clubhouse Media Group’s first content house, “The Clubhouse BH” became a household name, mostly because of Daisy Keech’s previous involvement in the Hype House and because of Young’s careful structuring of the narrative through PR strategy that he was particularly hands on with. Soon, the words “Content House” became synonymous with the Clubhouse BH, along with its other sister houses “Not a Content House” and “Clubhouse Europe”, amassing millions of followers and over 30,000 applicants.  “The first year was filled with a lot of creative energy - It was fun to be involved in coming up with the concepts for each individual house, and I spent a lot of time dispensing advice to our influencers - I felt that it was a little easier for me to connect with our talent because I knew what it was like to be an Influencer.” Every day for Young was different from the previous one, from coming up with content ideas, to training the talent agents at the company, to helping manage some of the Influencer’s careers, the multifaceted aspect of the job was what made waking up every day so exciting.  Ava Tortorici, an influencer that was a member of “Not a Content House” and “Clubhouse BH” commented that “Christian was super helpful in helping me in this new industry”.  As the head of talent and lead talent manager, Christian spent hours bouncing around helping guide the dozens of talent creators at Clubhouse Media Group through this new world of Social Media.

“One thing we just completely lucked out on was that we had such a good group of influencers from the beginning, and I knew for sure when we started the business that the Influencer’s were our best cheerleaders and recruiters, and Daisy was so well connected that we had her choose the sort of “dream team” of those first Clubhouse members.  Some of those Influencers included people like Charly Jordan, Kinsey Wolanski, Isaak Presley, Chase Keith, who all were known not only for being famous, but for having other skillsets such as acting, DJ’ing, and singing.  “The Social Media industry had gotten to this inflection point where it was no longer looked down upon, where if you were a singer, or an actress, or even an athlete, you NEEDED a stronger social media following because it was going to help you at your other endeavours”.   

Young remembers the first year of the business being a complete blur, with the constantly changing environment of platforms coming and going, remarking that even at one point “we had thought we had to stop using TikTok because it was going to be banned and that Triller was going to replace it.  “Our operational strategy had to accommodate the lightning speed of changes in the industry.  Meanwhile, COVID was sort of this constant backdrop to the whole business, that in some ways helped by focusing more people into social media, but also made it hard for us to bring in and collaborate with external influencers.  Overall though, Young says it was all an exciting experience, and the frenetic energy is something he enjoys.  “Being able to say that I was a part of something new and different in a relatively nascent industry is just pretty cool in general.” 

Fast forward almost 3 years later since Young moved into the talent management space and Young feels like it was only last week that this all started.  “I’m proud to say that all of the previous experiences and skillsets that seemingly had no connection to each other melded into this one business, as I can honestly say that I have used all of my skills at one point or another over the past few years in Clubhouse Media Group - as lawyer, as an agent, as a digital entrepreneur, and as a creative. 

Paying it forward and the uture of social media

“Its exciting to see that almost every creator, videographer, photographer, or employee that has been with Clubhouse Media Group that’s either still with the company or is now onto their next endeavour, has grown.  In that respect, I feel that we’re almost like an incubator or accelerator in the space.  “Now that we have more of a team and some more structure I am looking at what’s next.  My favorite part of the Social Media Business is just that it embodies the true spirit of entrepreneurship, where you can create something out of essentially nothing.  I’m happy to have been able to help so many of these creators launch their careers and to see this industry being taken more and more seriously.”  Young has recently been spending more time on giving back, speaking regularly to College students on social media, paneling at Vidcon, and serving as a board member and advisor for “Film2Future”, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged kids develop careers in the creative space.  “I’m also currently very much into the whole automotive space, and have had a blast helping manage and develop Lindsay Brewer’s career – a Pro Racecar driver whom some have called the next Danica Patrick and the “Future of Indycar”.  Brewer remarked that she was especially thankful for the professional guidance and management capabilities of Young, “I had had so many bad managers previous to Christian, and it was refreshing to work with someone who had the knowledge and experience to guide my professional and social media career”.    

When  asked about what he’s currently most excited about in Social Media, Christian says the racing and automotive space is something he is particularly bullish on.  Christian, who as a kid spent time driving go-karts and racing at an amateur level in SCCA noted that there’s an interesting trend in the automotive space.  He feels like cars “skipped a generation”, and that millennials like himself weren’t really into exotic vehicles the way social media stars are into them now. “I think a combination of the financial crisis of 2008, and the sensible nature of millennials sort of stifled the industry a bit, but look on the internet now and you’ll find that the flash and luxury of exotic vehicles seems to be making an especially big comeback, especially with the newer Generation Z and Generation Alpha youth.   When asked further about what he would do in the industry, Young replied with some coyness that “I try to always do things that I love, because then I know that at the least I will be passionate about it – I think it would be kind of cool, I mean, I’d love to see an influencer race series, sort of like what is going on in boxing with Mayweather and the Paul brothers”. 

In closing, Christian dispensed a bit of advice - “At the end of the day, its all about the hard work.  Social media may seem glitzy and glamorous but it really isn’t that much different from any other type of business – putting in the time, the effort, and thinking ahead with strategy, initiative, and focus goes a long way”.  You can tell that just like all the other 70 million plus millennial’s, Young didn’t always have a clear path, but somehow he found his own way.    

Nowadays, Christian doesn’t shy away from the fact that he doesn’t necessarily always know what’s coming around the corner, in Social Media, or in general, but he’s excited that Influencers are here to stay, and that with a pragmatic approach, and a sincere desire to help support others in the space he can hopefully make a larger impact on the world, and maybe, just maybe, have some fun along the way.  

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.