One of the advantages that YouTube Music has over other music streaming apps is that you can switch between audio-only and video if it’s available for the song that you’re listening to. However, it looks like this will soon become a perk for Premium subscribers only as Google brings a “new listening experience” to the YouTube Music app. There will be changes for the good for free users as background play will soon be available for them starting in Canada but apparently, something had to give.

The main YouTube app is of course still the place to go when you want to watch videos and it will most likely remain free forever. But you won’t be able to switch to videos anymore when you’re on the YouTube Music app, at least if you’re a free user. Watching videos on the music app will soon be one of the exclusive benefits of a paid subscription to YouTube Music. Other paid perks include listening to songs on-demand, unlimited skips, and of course ad-free listening.

The good news is that background playback will soon become available for non-paying users. This means you can do other things on your phone or lock your screen and the music will not stop. This is of course something that other music streaming services already offer but YouTube Music is now catching up. The free tier will of course still have ads and you can only play personalized mixes, playlists, and radio stations. Free users can also listen to songs they uploaded on the app, on-demand.

YouTube Music will be hosting an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on the forum with Product Manager Jason Robinson to answer anything about the new listening experience that they will start rolling out soon. Users can already submit questions and feedbacks in the thread, as long as it’s related to the topic of course. There are already a few clarifications and some mildly violent reactions there so you can add your own.

The changes are coming to Canada first starting November 3, 2021. They have not yet made any announcements about plans for global expansion so expect that to be asked and hopefully answered during the AMA.