SongStudio 2020 will be presented online using Zoom online meeting technology. Zoom has been in the online-meeting market for years, and have seen their adoption skyrocket as a result of working-at-home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This has uncovered ways in which the Zoom meeting tools can be abused, and has led to negative publicity for Zoom. There are many stories reported, of Zoom meetings hijacked by those who have used the tools for malicious purposes. There are also theories about whether or not the software has allowed unauthorized access to information shared during a Zoom meeting.
One benefit from the increased adoption of Zoom technology and the incidences of abuse, is that the Zoom platform has undergone significant improvements in the past few months. End-to-end encryption and greater privacy controls, along with fixes to other gaps, have been implemented already.
We do not take security lightly. We are interested in presenting a smooth-running, secure online songwriters’ event which benefits everyone involved.
While we cannot guarantee that Zoom meetings are totally protected from abuse, what we can promise you is that we are aware of the meeting tools and practices which have commonly been abused to interrupt online meetings, and we are designing our meetings to incorporate best practices and expose very little potential for compromise.
Our online meetings will:
- require all participants to be authenticated with Zoom accounts. No anonymous participation will be allowed
- require all participants to use meeting pre-registration; access to meetings will be limited to pre-registered, recognized SongStudio participants
- require all participants to be admitted individually into the meetings
- remove and restrict access to meeting tools which have been central to disruption attacks in the past, and which are not essential to our workshop operation
- not be accessible through publicly-shared meeting links
- not be shared beyond the group of workshop attendees
We continue to monitor updates to Zoom meeting best practices, and will incorporate additional measures as necessary to improve security and privacy.
After much consideration, we have decided to present SongStudio 2020 entirely online. The workshop will take place on the same dates as we planned to be in-person, July 18-24, but all sessions will take place using online meeting technology.
It is entirely possible that, by July 2020, isolation and social distancing will be more relaxed where you live. We will present all sessions of SongStudio 2020 online, but you are welcome to gather physically with nearby SongStudio participants to enjoy the workshop together, should you be comfortable doing so.
Each day at SongStudio 2020 Online will largely resemble a day in-person at SongStudio Toronto. We will have large-group sessions alternating between guest interviews and lessons, small-group sessions allowing for direct workshopping with our mentors, short one-on-one meetings with mentors and other participants, and time allotted for writing songs together!
We will also continue our tradition of hosting “Industry Day”, on which we switch away from songwriting craft and discuss topics related to the business of music.
To keep things simple, we are scheduling three online meetings each day, starting at the same times on every day of the workshop: 9:00am, 1:00pm and 7:00pm EDT. Our “917” approach is a way for us to keep things simple and predictable, and doubles as a nod to those in New York City (area code 917) who are the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And in respect of the various time zones from which our participants and mentors will be joining us, we are setting the schedule to place the song workshopping in our 1:00pm meetings – which should work best for participants and mentors to the distant east and west of us. Sessions in the 9:00am meetings will place the least demands on our far-away mentors (we need them alert!), and EVERYTHING will be recorded so that participants can catch up if they miss a session “live”. This has the added BONUS of allowing participants to observe the workshop sessions led by other mentors, regardless of whose workshop session you might attend.
In the place of our usual evening get-together-and-perform sessions when we host in Toronto, we are planning time for co-writing and for directed songwriting exercises. Our end-of-week showcase will take on an exciting new direction, but we’ll keep that under wraps for now!