Main image of article Weekend Roundup: Zoom Backlash, Apple’s Music Help, Office Sounds

You made it through yet another week! Yay! Before you kick off yet another weekend of binge-watching and social isolation, let’s cover some interesting tech tidbits from the week, including Apple’s attempt to help indie musicians through the COVID-19 crisis, Zoom concerns, and where you can find the soothing sounds of an office copier doing its thing. 

Apple Gives Indie Musicians a Loan

Apple’s success as a tech company hinges largely on its connections to the music industry. After all, it was the enormous success of the iPod that powered the company’s renaissance; and the lessons learned during the development and launch of the music player, in turn, informed the creation of the iPhone. 

So as the COVID-19 pandemic crushes the music industry—live concerts are kaput for the moment, thanks to widespread lockdown policies—Apple is stepping up with a $50 million “advance royalty fund” for indie musicians. “Apple will offer royalty advances to labels that earn at least $10,000 every quarter from Apple Music and have a direct distribution deal with the service,” wrote Engadget. “The amount will depend on the label’s past earnings and will be recoupable against its future earnings on the platform.” 

Apple isn’t the only tech company moving to bail out musicians—Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, and other are contributing to a pandemic relief fund. But $50 million is quite a bit of money, even if the labels and musicians have to pay it back eventually. If the COVID-19 situation drags on, it will be interesting to see what Apple (and other companies) do to further support the content providers that generate so much material for their apps. 

Zoom Faces a Backlash

Of all the tech companies to wrestle with the COVID-19 crisis, video-conferencing service Zoom is among those that benefitted the most, with daily app downloads skyrocketing 30x year-over-year (according to CNBC). However, that’s also led to rising security concerns over the service, especially after reports of “zoom bombing” (i.e., hackers suddenly pop up in the middle of someone else’s conference and being doing terrible things). 

While many of these incidents are due to people posting public links to Zoom meetings on social media and other, easily-accessible forums, the incidents have led companies ranging from Google to SpaceX to ban the use of Zoom for “official” video conferencing. 

Even during the best of times, there’s a constant debate within tech companies about which services are approved for employee use. Despite sysadmins’ (and cybersecurity experts’) attempting to get their workforces to only use officially sanctioned apps, employees like to utilize whatever works. But everyone working from home unleashes a whole new host of security and stability concerns, and it seems likely that more companies will begin to crush down on unauthorized app use—if they can. 

Missing the Office Yet?

According to the most recent Dice Salary Survey, some 93 percent of technologists want to work from home at least some of the time—but only 60 percent of respondents had the chance to actually do so. With COVID-19, though, the vast majority of technologists are probably working from home at this juncture—and we’re betting that not everyone is loving this forced isolation.

If you find yourself really missing the office—or if you just want to block out your neighbor’s annoying music and loud noises—check out, a handy website where you can click on cute graphics of office appliances to unleash the sounds you didn’t know you loved, including a watercooler pouring H2O, a copier machine running off TPS reports, the clacking of a keyboard, and so much more. 

Have a great weekend! And remember to keep washing those hands!