It’s hard to describe Nick Younès – hyperactive music industry maven, unpretentious cultural entrepreneur, life of the party. Since his teenage years, the 34-year-old has been embodying the joy of working behind the scenes. After running IX Daily (FKA Indecent Xposure), a defining blog and fun house of the Montreal culture scene for over a decade, and a stint at Apple Music on editorial and programming, Nick now champions local music. As the Global Digital Partnerships Manager at Secret City Records, home to Canadian talents with a global reach, he works with artists like Patrick Watson, Emily Khan, Jesse Mac Cormack and the Barr Brothers. Nick sat down with RAC to chat about taking leaps of faith, loving music, and doing things your own way.
RAC: As demonstrated over the years, you are truly passionate about music. Where did that come from?
Nick: Ever since I was a baby, I’ve wanted to become a performer. But at a very young age, I knew I didn’t have the voice for it. That was the only thing that would stop me. At some point, I wanted to become an actor. I took theatre after school. But, because I didn’t look the part, I decided that I couldn’t be an actor: I had to be behind the scenes. I studied cinema and communications at Dawson, and it opened up how I can do so much more in the music industry.
From a very young age, I would always analyze and have an analytical view of people like the Spice Girls, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys. I would even write about it then! To this day, I still am fascinated by campaigns, and I study them.
RAC: What keeps you busy these days?
Nick: My principal job is with the record label. As a Global Digital Partnerships Manager, I plan and look over all album campaigns and singles on a global scale to ensure that they are successful editorially and musically on different platforms (streaming, social media, etc). I ensure that an album is in a certain lane, I do all the marketing initiatives for the platform, and make sure artists have visibility.
For example, let’s say YouTube has a billboard in Montreal during a music festival. I make sure that I pitch for my artist. If Spotify is doing a playlist takeover in a country, I have an artist added to the playlist. I also do all the strategies for social media like TikTok, Reels, YouTube Shorts and digital advertising. What’s so special about the record label is that we do international campaigns, which is so rare for a lot of Canadian labels. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I still work on other projects whenever I have the time, I’m still very passionate!
RAC: It’s been enthralling to see our favourite artists shine and get recognition. What led you to this position?
Nick: I took this job because I needed a challenge after my contract ended with Apple Music. Somebody told me about Secret City Records, and that the position would be really cool for me. I was like, “An independent record label, what’s that?” (laughs). I come from a hip-hop and electronic background. I knew how to market that. Suddenly, I was with singer-songwriters, folk music, and instrumental music. I was like, “How do I even do that?” I got to play around with a lot of campaigns that were originally not in my comfort zone.
I found my way to make it fun and artsy for these people. For artists, I think that it starts with fostering your audience, finding your voice, and doing it your way. But yes, there are a lot of platforms today, and so it’s a lot of posts and a lot of work. My job is to try to make it easy for artists.
RAC: You ran IX Daily from 2007 until 2019. The blog was a stepping stone to the career of many artists (for e.g., Jacques Green and Kaytranada under previous monikers). What pushed you to start the project at such a young age?
Nick: I was at Dawson when the shooting took place in 2006. That was my catalyst. I remember thinking that day, “Oh my God, I’m not even 18 and I haven’t accomplished what I wanted to do.” It really pushed me. I got involved at the radio station, the newspaper, the student union. I threw parties with live music on the radio station. People then were asking where they could hear about these bands that I had just found and discovered, so I started the blog originally to feature them. With time, it evolved into three sections: music, fashion, and lifestyle.
I knew nothing about business and I was never business-oriented. Looking back, my vision was: “How do I foster creativity and inspire people to bring their best selves?” That was the only thing I knew how to do. For the rest, it was fake it till you make it. I would ask, “Hey, who wants to get involved? What do you envision yourself doing? Let’s do things.” I want to achieve everything I want to achieve. I want everyone else around me to be able to achieve that too. People don’t know the potential they can have, just by being given permission to try to do something. I knew that I wasn’t better than anyone else. But if it was working for me, it may work for other people, too.
I wasn’t getting paid, and nobody was. We ran it for 12 years. The money we were making from ads was thrown back into parties and the website. For us to be able to throw extravagant parties, we had to put in a lot of budget, as well as make the website what it was at the time – cool, interactive, and ever-changing.
RAC: You put so much of yourself into that venture. What led you to move on?
Nick: I had a burnout in 2019. I remember going to the hospital and the nurse said: “You seem like you’re overloaded and going through a burnout.” When she said that, I cried for an hour non-stop. Someone was seeing it for the first time.
When I closed everything down, reality sank in. I cried for a while. It was a big mourning, even if it was for the best. Then, I manifested my Apple Music position. And I had my dream come true.
I’m at a very good place right now. This record label is amazing. I’m very privileged to work with people that are so inspiring. I never want to be in a place where people don’t inspire me and where I’m not being challenged. That was also the beauty of IX Daily – I was surrounded by that every day.
Films and visuals are still and always a big thing for me. Currently, I do it through my 35 mm photography. I’ve also written a few scripts. I would love to pursue that, maybe as my next step.
Written by Christelle Saint-Julien
Illustration by Yihong Guo