YouTube Music unlocks background listening for free users

Starting in Canada, before rolling out worldwide, background listening is coming to YouTube Music, from next month.

As is the same on YouTube, the music streaming service only allows streaming while the app is open on your phone. To continue playing music while the screen is off or browsing other apps, a YouTube Music Premium or YouTube Premium subscription is required. Along with other features such as ad-free listening and offline support, background listening is one of the most compelling reasons to upgrade to a YouTube Music Premium subscription. This is set to change, starting in Canada on November 3rd, before the new feature rolls out worldwide.

Without a subscription, YouTube Music users can experience ad-supported, radio-like listening, with personalized mixes on shuffle featuring the artists, songs and albums you love, all with the screen off or while using other apps.

  • Listen to your music in the background: You can now keep your music playing after minimizing the app or turning off your screen. Go on a run, answer a text, or check some emails without stopping your music. 
  • Enjoy continuous stations and shuffle: Dive into this new playback experience with continuous radio stations based on your favorite songs, albums, and artists. Further your listening through personalized playlists on shuffle, like Mixed for you on the Home tab, which features mixes inspired by your ever-changing music ecosystem. If you’ve uploaded songs on the YouTube Music app, you can continue to play them anytime, and you can also keep streaming music and videos, on-demand, with the YouTube app. 
  • Focus on what’s important: With Google Assistant driving mode, drivers can now keep their focus on the road while staying safe and entertained with a hands-free YouTube Music experience.

It’s an interesting move as most streaming services are pushing users to their premium services as much as possible, a move that also benefits artists. This could however bring more free listeners away from competitors, which YouTube Music hopes to covert to paying subscribers if their personalized playlists are as good as they claim. While most other free streaming competitors don’t require the screen to be on, they do restrict users in other ways, such as Spotify Free on mobile only playing in shuffle mode.


Find the YouTube Music app on the Play Store or App Store.

To get your own music on YouTube Music for free, click here.

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