If you’ve ever used YouTube Music without a Premium subscription, you might have been disappointed. Despite being a music app, the only way you could listen to music in the background was with a subscription. There was no advertisement-subsidised streaming that competitors like Spotify have — instead, you just had to leave your phone unlocked, in the app, all the time. Now that’s changing, and YouTube Music can now finally be played in the background for free, starting in Canada.
Music lovers rejoice!🎵 Background listening is coming to the @YouTubeMusic app, and 🇨🇦 will be the first to enjoy this new feature starting Nov 3! Get radio-like listening with your screen off and don’t stop the music! 🎶🎶🎶 https://t.co/GPwRMcVhp1
— Google Canada (@googlecanada) October 4, 2021
Customers in Canada from November 3rd will be able to listen to music in the background while using their phone or with the screen off. It supports ad-supported radio mixes alongside any content that you’ve uploaded yourself. The company has not announced how it plans to expand free background playback outside of Canada, and has said to “stay tuned for additional information and expansion plans.” It appears that this will only support radio stations from within the YouTube Music app, along with “Mixed for you” playlists.
This is very similar to what Spotify offers on its free tier. On Spotify, you can’t select songs for playback, but you can shuffle music and listen to it in the background. You also only get to skip six songs an hour, and you can listen to Daily Mix playlists. YouTube Music’s offering is quite similar in that regard, and you’ll still get advertisements while you listen too. Other competitors of YouTube Music that offer background playback for free include Apple Music, Pandora, and Tidal.
There are still reasons to subscribe to YouTube Music though, including the ability to easily select songs to listen to and also download your music for offline playback. The service has obviously been lagging behind competitors for quite a while now, and hopefully changes like this signal major improvement coming to the platform.