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4 January 2022

"Always focus on the sound source, and that's where the money is." - Jan 'Yarn' Muths

About the 


With over 2 decades of recording, mixing and music production experience, Muths interviews musicians, producers and engineers from the Australian East Coast and the world. Always curious about production workflows, gear, software, techniques, and strategies. The Production Talk podcast is a must-listen for anyone interested in music production from the Northern Rivers and far beyond.

The Production Talk Podcast - The modern way of producing music

In this episode:

  • Careful with software marketing - Don't fall for the tricks of the marketing machine

  • Hold on to your money - you probably won't need any more plugins

  • The 'cooking-recipe' mentality, and why nothing good ever comes from it


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Contact the podcast host Jan 'Yarn' Muths at

Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.


Jan 'Yarn' Muths or, in the studio


(auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error)

Hey everybody. This is Yarn from In previous episodes, I told you that I would be on a lengthy Christmas break and taking it a little bit of time off. But today I'd like to just drop in a "minisode". So to speak, a little episode that was actually prerecorded and it won't be a long one, but I just came across something that I really liked to share with you. And as a music producer, I know that you probably are subject to a huge marketing machine that tries to push software, particularly DAWs and plugins into the market. If your email inbox looks anything like mine, you would probably find quite a few promotional emails every single week. And there's one that I really, really would like to talk about right now, because to me, it basically is the one that shows everything [00:01:00] that's wrong about the world of software marketing and music production. So I received this email from a very well-regarded plugin developer who I shall not name today. And it goes along the lines of the following: they actually use the name of a very well-regarded colleague of mine, a mix engineer, a producer of much more successful than me in many ways. And they say, I won't name, I won't name who that is. I don't want to give it away here, but the title says, and I quote: hotshot producer XYZ uses this plugin to make his mix sound mastered. And then it goes into explaining which plugin they use, they drop lots of big names. So they're really trying to push this one plugin and it literally comes down to the one moment where they give it away and say that, and I quote, a mix isn't done until this plugin has been added, which is then used to balance everything and it's so crucial in [00:02:00] giving a mix radio-ready sound. Now that we use this plugin, it sounds as if it's a record. End of quote. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's step back here for a moment. Let's just consider this. This is exactly what I think is wrong with the industry. What basically happens here is that they take a very, very, very experienced producer, who probably gets a truckload of money for being featured in this software developer's marketing email, and they somehow claim that the great work that this person does, only sounds good because they use this product. And this to me is what I would call the cooking recipe mentality, which is the cause of so much trouble and so much confusion in the music production industry by cooking recipe mentality I mean people are lured, or [00:03:00] tricked, or brainwashed, if you want to call it so, into believing that a great sounding record comes from having a product and using it. And that's the marketing department of this plugin developer speaking to you and getting into our brains. They try to push plugins into the already saturated market. Here's the thing: this is all rubbish. You don't need this plugin. This is not what you should be doing. I would even go as far as stating that the hotshot producer, who I shall not name, is experienced enough to produce a phenomenal record either way. And if he had to replace this plugin with a different one, he would still get a great result because he knows how to do it. It's the skill of this hot shot producer that makes it, it's not the plug-in. It was just the tool that was used in this instance. And I'm pretty sure [00:04:00] that he could just replace that with another model and get the same great result. However, the marketing departments try to fool us now. They try to make us believe it was the tool, not the skill, that made this phenomenal sounding record. And this is something that I see again, again and again. And unfortunately, this is what I call the cooking recipe mentality, trying to apply things in the right order, by the right degree, not as instructed by somebody else. And then we expect a great product at the end of it. Yep. That's not going to work. It will never work. It will never work. This is a load of rubbish. So instead it only ever comes down to skills. That's the only thing that counts. A skilled engineer or music producer can produce a phenomenal sounding song with just basic gear and even stock [00:05:00] DAW plugins without the need for all the fancy ones. What I just demonstrated is basically the marketing department, trying to push plugins into the saturated market. And they basically want to get to our credit card numbers. You don't need those plugins. You really don't need those plugins. So if you want to invest money, think about stuff that actually benefits you. And my recommendation is to always look at the very top of your signal processing chain or recording chain. So think about: a great sounding instrument instead of investing money into, I dunno, fancy plugins. Why don't you consider whether your instruments need an upgrade, whether you might need to invest into a better drum set, into new heads, into new strings for your bass, into better leads into a more powerful or better sounding amplifier or effect pedals or [00:06:00] hardware synthesizers, or even if you are an in the box producer, you could consider to invest into possibly some virtual instruments, better sounding software instruments. That's where the money is. You can also think about microphones and you know, maybe one nice preamp, that's definitely worth it in the long run. However, mixing plugins is not where the money is. They can only ever make things good that started off really, really good. They can make those things better, but it all starts from the beginning. So go straight back to the beginning. That's where you can really make a difference. And if you get things right at the beginning, then your DAW stock plugins, and maybe very few additional freebies can literally do all you need, but that's only if you get it right at the beginning. So if you're a music producer, do not [00:07:00] invest too much money into fancy, mix down plugins because there's way too much out there in the market. There's way more than we will ever need. And they're all very, very desperate to sell their product to us. And in many ways, like the company that I shall not name, err that sent me this email earlier this morning. They really try to, yeah, fuel the cooking recipe thinking mentality that it's really not about skills instead, or they want us to believe is that we need to purchase their product in order to make a great sounding record. That couldn't be further from the truth. So please don't believe that, this is rubbish. Do not fall for that. Buy yourself the things you really need. Get some good stuff, but always focus on the source, and that's where the money is. And if you ever come across a marketing email like this, that tells you, you must have this kind of process on the master, [00:08:00] otherwise it will not sound great. Throw them straight in the rubbish bin and delete. You do not want to fall for that. There is no magic bullet. There is no way to outspend, or to compensate experience with money and, and products. That doesn't work, it will never work. Although the marketing industry of course wants you to believe differently. Okay, good. Yes. I hope this might be useful to you. Hopefully it will help you to not fall for marketing emails like this, and hopefully it will help you to hold onto your money and invest it into better things in instead. This is just a short episode, a minisode, as I would like to call them just to bridge the gap over the Christmas and new year break, where I'm actually out building new studios. So just a little reminder that you can still win a free mix down from me from So if you're still interested, head down [00:09:00] to the show notes, everything that you need to know is in there. Short and punchy for today. That's all that we want to do in this episode today. I shall speak to you soon. Once I'm back from my Christmas break. Take care, everybody. Bye for now.
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