YouTube Music Goes Audio-Only For Free Users: What Changes And When

If you are in Canada and use YouTube Music for free, you can now only listen to audio, not videos. We are exploring the details of this change.


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YouTube has announced major changes to its YouTube Music service that may confuse some users. If you are using the free version of YouTube Music, you will no longer be able to watch the videos, but only listen to the audio. If you want the videos, they moved behind the paywall.

Let’s explore these changes in more detail and find out when they’ll hit YouTube Music.

How is YouTube music changing?

In early October, YouTube released a blog post to announce that background playback will be available in Canada, free of charge, starting November 3, 2021. This means you can listen to your tracks on YouTube Music while you browse other apps or with the screen turned off.

Along with listening in the background, free users will still be able to mix custom playlists and browse songs and playlists as usual.

Related: YouTube Music Tips & Tricks You Really Should Use

So far, so good. However, along with this update, YouTube announced that those who use YouTube Music for free in Canada will not be able to watch the music videos. Instead, it’s an audio-only experience. The ability to watch videos is now included in the YouTube Music Premium subscription.

It’s getting worse. Other features, like on-demand music selection and unlimited skipping, are also behind the paywall. Essentially, the free YouTube Music experience is watered down considerably. For many, this will greatly compromise the experience.

When will these changes occur?

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These changes will come into effect on November 3 for YouTube Music users in Canada. The company said it had plans for global expansion but had not released definitive dates or plans for other countries.

Other streaming services are no doubt looking to see how it goes for YouTube; they’re also experimenting, with Apple recently announcing a Siri-only voice plan for Apple Music.

Is YouTube Music Premium worth the investment?

Background playback is a feature that is in high demand among free YouTube Music users. Some may therefore consider this update to be a positive element. However, YouTube has generally been associated with video content, so moving videos behind a paywall can be an unpopular decision for the streaming service.

YouTube Music Premium may be worth the investment, especially if you currently use on-demand listening and watch music videos in the app. However, there are a number of other music streaming services out there as well. Spotify and Apple Music are the two most popular services to check out.


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