YouTube Music's free tier gains a useful feature only to lose another

Youtube Music Branding Up Close Galaxy Z Fold
Youtube Music Branding Up Close Galaxy Z Fold (Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is making some notable changes to YouTube Music.
  • The app will soon no longer allow free users to watch music videos.
  • This comes after Google announced that the free tier would get background listening.
  • The changes are expected to occur on November 3.

Google recently announced a rather useful change coming to YouTube Music, finally allowing users on the free tier to listen to music in the background like many of the best music streaming services. However, that new perk comes with another change, one that users may not like as much.

In a YouTube Music support page spotted by 9to5Google, the company says that free-tier users will no longer be able to watch videos with the app. This feature will soon become a Premium-tier perk, essentially swapping features as background listening will no longer require a Premium subscription.

Being able to watch music videos in addition to listening to audio tracks is one of the nice perks about YouTube Music, but this change would signal a shift towards more of an audio-only app. However, this would give free users yet another reason to consider switching to the Premium subscription, with YouTube Music handling all their music needs.

The support page also laid out the upcoming differences between the two tiers. Those on the free tier will soon have access to:

  • listen to music in the background
  • shuffle play personalized mixes (that are made just for you!)
  • find the perfect mood mixes for activities like workout, commute and more
  • explore millions of songs & thousands of playlists, free of cost
  • continue to play uploaded tracks on-demand

While those on Premium will be able to:

  • listen to songs on-demand
  • watch videos on YouTube Music
  • skip tracks an unlimited number of times
  • enjoy YouTube Music without ads

To help explain the changes, YouTube product manager Jason Robinson will host an AMA on October 21 to answer questions and take feedback on the changes, so if you feel a particular way about the update, this is where you can address it.

The update will take place November 3 in Canada first, with other countries to follow at some point.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

  • I'm ok with this as I don't watch the videos often on YouTube music
  • I don't really watch videos on YouTube Music either but I can see why some would like this feature, especially since it lets you easily switch to the video version of a song if available.
  • Yeah I get that part those who do might not like this
  • YouTube music is trash compared to Play music. So awful it pushed me to get a Spotify sub.
  • I love YouTube music. If you have Premium there is no better podcast/listen w/o looking app around. I really wish they would do business with Sony so I could use the service on my PS5.
  • Same! Especially since I'm not a Spotify user
  • Seems like a win-win.
  • Does that mean we can listen to audio of video songs or will those videos will be unavailable?
  • I use CloudDrive. That way I can listen to MY music, and listen to it the way I want. None of the music services are useful to me.
  • The YouTube music app has so far been useless. I always keep uninstalling it from all my devices and it makes no difference. Unless I see it mentioned somewhere I forget it even exists. The few times I've used it, it seemed cumbersome and pretty poorly designed.