YouTube Poop (Audio Production Edition)

Image Credit: Tony Webster; Abandoned Television Set Curb. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

I’m a big fan of the Tube of Yous. I despise the fact that it’s really an Ad Network disguised as a Video Service, but there are some fantastic things to enjoy and even learn about if you’re willing to put in a bit of work to find the ‘jewels in the mud’.

Personally, I have a few Channels bookmarked that I check about once a week to see if there’s anything new. But for many it’s their first stop for music, entertainment, and information on the (now-decaying) Interwebz®. As an Audio Engineer, sometimes musical creator, and educator it’s usually where I wind up to check out updates, new gear, or tips and tricks for things I use or have some interest in since any usable Web Search on a particular topic goes straight to video recommendations anyways. Hello Enshittification.

Ed. Note: This is why I prefer to write – it’s happily running against the fashion.

But I have to say that what finds its way into my ‘Recommended Feed’ is just so incredibly inane or downright ludicrous I have to save them for S&G’s to share with all of you here. So it’s time to carry on a small tradition from <the old site> where I would do a ‘Holiday Gift Guide’ based on musically-based garbage dredged up from the depths of scAmazon. Only it’s not a Holiday (that I know of), and now it’s Alphabet/Google/YouTube’s turn in the Hot Seat. I have a feeling there will be more of these in the future…

I simply did a search for ‘Audio Production’ to see what shows up. Enjoy the Funhouse Ride.

First up is the age-old question in Production Circles that I thought we put to bed over a decade ago (akin to the incredibly banal ‘analog vs. digital’ nonsense):

The answer is simple – whichever system you are used to working with and/or currently own. There are plenty of choices for Mac, Windows, Linux, and the various shades of Mobile Devices that will keep you happy forever. No one cares what you use – just what you do with it. Congrats! I just saved you seven minutes of your time.

Next is a question I still (unfortunately) hear a lot:

It’s 2024 technically, but here’s the one-minute answer from someone who teaches professionally at a School for Audio Engineering: Do you want to be an Audio Engineer? Oh, good.

Well then, you have two choices – 1) do it yourself, or 2) learn from someone who has decades of experience in what they do. Both take time, and one typically costs money to take less time. Your call.

But I’d be amiss in my duties if I didn’t give you the ‘long answer’ too. As an educator for decades now, the real solution to this question is complicated so I will try to explain it as simply as possible:

  1. All education (public or private) is a business. It has to make money to survive.
  2. Everyone at the bottom of the ladder is overworked and underpaid. In my experience, 99%+ of those educators and support staff at the bottom of said ladder honestly and truly care about you (the student) and your future. They want you to succeed.
  3. The overpaid ones at the top that make all the decisions for the school make those decisions solely for the benefit of making money. Anything else is secondary. Or worse.
  4. We’ve all seen the idiotic job postings of needing a degree to apply for work in fast food (with decades of experience to boot). Education can give you that ‘leg up’ that can get you in the door of what you want to do, but it’s up to you and what you take from the learning experience. The process of Education is to get you the skills you need to make you a hirable commodity.
  5. You can probably learn it yourself. But it’s going to take a lot more time and effort to get there. Oh, there are a lot of people doing this as well so you’re going to have to find a way to get seen above the din.
  6. Ultimately, It really is your call here. If you really really want to do what the school teaches, they will help you get there. It’s expensive and time-consuming, but it will help you improve your skillset and can give you a bit of an edge over all the others in shrinking job markets with lots of competition. But you have to put the effort into it for best results.

Sidebar: I have to complain about YT Thumbnails for sec. Um, didn’t we decide ‘YouTube Face’ was dead like five plus years ago? We did do this as a society, right? Right..?

Onward. You see a lot of this nonsense on YT – doesn’t matter the genre or topic:


First, I hate to tell you this David, but it’s not a secret anymore. Second, you can see the name of the Plugin in the description, so just do a Web Search and save yourself the 18+ minutes of this person gushing over whatever this is. Third, I actually just did that and it’s not ‘completely unfair’, ‘game changing’, or ‘zomg everyone will hate you forever if you don’t use this’, it’s yet another saturation/tape plugin. I guarantee you have several of these in your DAW/Music Making Thingy already. Fourth, I’m not buying anything from a company that calls itself ‘Make Believe Studios’. Neither should you.

Another sidebar: In my YT travels I’m constantly bombarded by ‘influencers’ (and I hear this from my students too) telling me that something is a ‘Mixing Secret Weapon’ or ‘You NEED This Plugin!’ (spoiler alert). Take it from me – it’s almost certainly BS. Most modern Music Production Software has so much capability nowadays that needing anything additional to what comes with it already is putting faith in the belief that this ‘One Weird Trick’ (remember that meme?) will make you too a superstar Producer/DJ/Engineer/Hair Stylist/Whatever. It won’t. It takes time to find your Style/Groove/Pathway and the old adage of ‘practice makes perfect’ still applies. Learn your tools, learn your craft, keep practicing on what you do with them and just keep working on making what you make and do better. These are the ‘secrets’ the pros use – and they are all free for you to take advantage of. And now I just saved you a bunch of money. We really are a full-service Blog…

Next up: a ‘YT Face’ twofer. Apologies in advance.

The top pic (and what’s up with the Zombie look?) is a video that came out two months ago. By my clock that’s March. A bit premature there Mate – I guarantee you more Plugins will be released before December 31st… Maybe they are saving that Mystery 5th Plugin as a placeholder, but IMO none of these will ‘elevate your productions’ over what you have already in your audio toolbox. Next.

The bottom pic is a perfect example of YOU NEED THIS! (Spoiler Alert Complete.) For disclosure, I have Wytse (White Sea Studio) on my YT list, and generally like what he does. Based on this video I’d say it’s a clever Plugin. It’s interesting even. But take my word that 99.9% of Audio Production People do not need it. I’m a complete and unashamed Audio Nerd and I’m not even sure if I need it…

Wytse is a respectable Engineer, and his ‘Audio Snake Oil’ series was a real benefit to the Music Industry as a whole IMO. But as of late it seems he’s doing a lot of ‘Algorithm Chasing’ with his videos now, and it makes me a bit sad. He’s better than this, but we’ll get into this topic later.

His Channel is worth checking out for the most part though.

How about a few Shorts for a Palette Cleanser?

Shorts are a good idea (just spit it out instead of wasting everyone’s time), but for the most part they are just a snippet of the full-length video and then you get stuck in YT’s TikTok Ripoff Stream of Death® that you can’t escape from unless you close the Tab and open a new instance of the site. Tread carefully here.

Let’s deal with these anomalies from left to right:

  1. Hi! I’m cute smarmy guy and I’m selling something. Please buy it...
  2. Sorry, but I can’t take Audio Production advice reenacted with puppets seriously. Good for whoever you are, But. I. Just. Can’t. There’s a Spinal Tap joke in here someplace, but seriously how is this getting over a million views? Asking for a friend.
  4. The words in this screen cap were thought out very carefully. And whoever did it is both incredibly proud of themselves and equally ashamed. I hope they forever dream YT Faces as a penance.
  5. It’s subtle, and you have to be as deranged of an Audio Nerd as I am to get the clue, but it’s got to be The Finger. It has to be because no one used it, uses it, or wants to use it. Even with 2.7 Million Views.

Whenever something (anything) new is released you will always see these:

My advice – find something else. Whether it’s a new Plugin, DAW, ‘DAWless’ gizmo or Toothbrush, everyone dogpiles to be ‘Frist’ and if you’re interested just go get the demo and try it yourself. Come back in a few days when there’s actual tips, tricks, and useful info in the videos.

Speaking of ‘This One Simple Trick’:

12 Hours of video. Twelve freaking hours, and they made this the thumbnail.

Pro tip: changing the Ratio on a compressor generally doesn’t fix a mix. Compressors take a lot of fiddling around with to even begin to understand not only what they do, but how to use them for different situations. Don’t let this scare you from learning them – they are essential tools in your Audio Toolbox!

Every song is different. Every mix is different. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to mixing or fixing a mix. It’s always knowing your tools, understanding what they do, and how to use them efficiently. It’s a learned skill like anything else you want to do in life.

I’m guessing with half a day of content there’s some usable stuff in here, but damn that’s a seriously misleading screen cap…

What’s next? Oh look – more YT Face!

Logic Pro 11 just came out. It’s okay for a fairly simple update (why they called it Version 11 is anyone’s guess…) But based on this atrocity of a Thumbnail I’m assuming the BEST feature I haven’t noticed yet is that it makes the Mixer Window float outside of your monitor’s display frame. Really surprised that wasn’t in the Release Notes…

Okay, one last one before we end this:

I’m guessing this is either a plug for Oeksound’s Soothe or somebody got it sent to them for free in return for The Coveted Thumbnail Access®. Regardless, might I suggest that if you want to make a video about ‘vocal anything’ you might want to show the microphone facing the correct way? Oh, and remember that’s a Side-Address mic, not an End-Address one… Just sayin’.

Now read the Description. Notice ‘Big Z’ has a Mixing Course but royally borked the Thumbnail. Instills confidence, doesn’t it?

Again, even with the flotsam and jetsam I do like The Tube of Yous once you learn how to avoid the ‘rent seekers’ and pick out the usable info. Yes, it’s far from perfect, and it’s a never-ending Shit Tornado® to navigate (this is done on purpose). But there are great discoveries for both beginner and ‘seasoned’ Audio Producers and Engineers there, but you are going to have to do a lot of digging for the gold you are looking for while avoiding a whole lot of snakes and weasels in the process.

For best hunting, always remember that YT is (like everything else on Grifter Planet®) a business. Not just for the Parent Conglomerate, but for the Creators as well. In a world where music has become less about creativity and more about keeping up with the Jones’, far too many up-and-coming Musicmakers are lured into that Siren Song that tells them ‘you can be like (insert Producer/Musician/Engineer here) if you just buy this thing or use this ‘Super Secret Magical Unknown Trick”. Don’t Believe The Hype.

You are exchanging your time for their potential profit (this means ads – lots and lots of ads unless you pay for Premium or whatever they call it this week), so if it looks too good to be true or plausibly unbelievable from the Thumbnail it most certainly is. If the title or description is just a bit too alluring or demands your attention that means trouble ahead. If you sense you are being sold something, or the review or overview seems a bit too ‘generic’ or doesn’t give any real deep details about the gadget or gizmo while you’re wanting info on, move along to something else. If there’s an AI Voiceover, run away! Lazy content is never good content.

The Creators have to live (and will unfortunately die) by ‘The Algorithm’ so if they want to survive they have to make content that stands out above the rest – this equates to enticing (or enraging) thumbnails, shouty-caps titles or text in the screen cap (along with dopey circles and metric fucktons of arrows in gaudy colors pointing to random crap), or just good old fashioned evangelistic hawkery. And apparently the dreaded YouTube Face is still one of those ‘red flags’. You will see a lot of the same techniques (it’s what YT tells them to do), but now you can use this to your advantage to find better content when you know what they are doing and how they are trying to manipulate you.

There is still honest and informative content on YouTube. There are still Creators using the ‘old skool’ method of making quality content about what they do and do extremely well. They typically have odd upload schedules (not multiple times during the week or even a day – another tactic to keep eyes on page and money in pocket), because this is either a second gig (usually a good sign) or they truly want to share what they’ve learned.

And again, always keep in mind that this is a business – as we’ve seen above even the ‘good’ ones use some of the tactics above to keep that money train rolling along (again, ‘The Algorithm’ tells them to do this for visibility). They typically aren’t as ‘sneaky’ or manipulative in my experience, but they still need to earn a living or make extra cash. Nothing wrong with that, but always worth remembering to keep your priorities in check.

So where are they? You’ll find them just along a side street where only the locals go, and you will have to put in a good amount of footwork to get there. Always keep an eye on your surroundings until you do. 🙂

Until next time…


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