I attended a wonderfully orchestrated virtual performance this evening put together by my daughters’ high school music director. The event was streamed using Zoom and it was extremely well done, with the exception that I couldn’t hear the actual music performances.
I could hear other people on the call and I could hear the music director as he spoke but I couldn’t hear any of the audio he was “sharing” from his desktop or laptop. Thankfully it turned out I wasn’t alone as other people quickly reported the same issue in chat… but oddly enough it turned out there were other folks in the meeting that could hear the performance fine so I was stumped.
How is it that some attendees in the meeting could hear the audio but other attendees couldn’t hear the audio?
In the ensuing conversation I heard how one couple had an Apple iPad and they couldn’t hear anything. I learned that even my parents who were using their new Windows desktop that I built for them in January had no issues hearing the performances. I even connected to the meeting from a second Windows device and confirmed that it too had the same problem. I’m not sure if it’s relevant but I did discover that both of my Windows devices were running the same (latest) version of the Zoom client, Version: 5.5.2 (12494.0204). I can only guess that there is a Zoom bug out there that we stumbled into, perhaps it has something to-do with encryption as I noticed that the teacher’s audio stream was alerting as “not encrypted” during the meeting. I felt really bad for the teacher but there wasn’t anything he could do and it definitely wasn’t his fault. Technology had failed him, just like it has failed so many of us so many times. I likely suspect Zoom was the culprit in this specific instance – I actually submitted a support ticket to Zoom from my corporate account so we’ll see where that goes if anywhere. It was just another sign of the times in this new COVID-19 reality that we’re all living in.
The teacher did make a comment that while LIVE streaming was allowed for educational use thanks to waivers from the music publishers, recording was still not permitted. I did some quick searching and found some relevant articles from the National Association for Music Education in an article titled, Music Publishers Agree to Allow Educational Use of Copyrighted Music. If you’ve ever tried to upload your child’s school performance to YouTube you’ll quickly run into issues if the recording has copyrighted music in it. I’ve been there done that, fun times getting a copyright strike against a middle school band performance.
I’m very disappointed to say that unfortunately technology failed again today, through no fault of the users. I’m usually pretty harsh on users (the word user is a dirty word in my house) but in this case it was the technology itself that failed. I like finding answers to these mysteries and hopefully Zoom will respond and we can fix it so the next concert can go on without any issues.