YouTube Music Is Releasing Background Listening For Free Users — Starting in Canada

YouTube app music controls
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YouTube app music controls
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Photo Credit: YouTube

YouTube Music is officially preparing to roll out background listening for its free version, and users in Canada are set to gain access to the feature this November.

YouTube Music higher-ups just recently revealed their plans to debut a background-listening option for ad-supported accounts, announcing the development on social media and in a blog post. Background listening will become available to Canada-based YouTube Music users “free of charge” on Wednesday, November 3rd, per company officials.

The Google-owned music-streaming service also made clear that it intends to launch the feature globally sometime down the line – albeit without disclosing a precise release date (or window). One social-media user called on the platform to “bring this worldwide,” and YouTube’s support account responded: “While we’re rolling out this ad-supported feature in Canada, we don’t have news when it becomes available in other countries.”

In any event, background listening, as its name suggests, will enable ad-supported YouTube Music users to “keep your music playing after minimizing the app or turning off your screen,” according to the company’s blog post on the subject. Additionally, background listening – which is already available to most other streaming services’ free users – will support “continuous radio stations” and “personalized playlists on shuffle.”

While a number of fans took to social media to applaud the quick-approaching arrival of background listening on the free version of YouTube Music, others have indicated that the feature was previously a major selling point for the service’s paid version, which costs $9.99 per month.

“Why are we paying for YouTube music premium now?” tweeted one such individual. For reference, YouTube Music’s Premium landing page touts users’ ability “to listen ad-free, offline & with your screen off” by subscribing. Of course, YouTube Music’s free version – like other such streaming options – generates revenue by playing advertisements, and these spots will remain in place even after the integration of background listening.

More broadly, the background-listening expansion could be designed to help YouTube Music steal away some of Spotify’s ad-supported MAUs, who numbered 210 million (a 24 percent year-over-year boost) and generated $318.92 million (€275 million) for the company (a 110 percent YoY hike) during Q2 2021. (The Stockholm-based audio-entertainment platform has scheduled its Q3 2021 earnings call for Wednesday, October 27th.)

Notwithstanding this material jump in ad-supported listeners and revenue for Spotify, it came to light last month that a full 25 percent of YouTube’s viewer hours are spent enjoying music – for a staggering 250 million hours of on-platform music consumption per day. Also worth noting is that YouTube in early September said that it boasted 50 million total paid subscribers across Music (at $9.99 per month, as mentioned) and Premium (at $11.99 per month, including ad-free access to Music as well as YouTube itself).