One of the biggest limitations of YouTube Music has always been that listening without a YouTube Premium subscription means you can’t exactly listen without your screen on and the app open at all times. It’s an absolutely silly requirement, that you keep the app open at all times in order continue playing tunes without interruption, but that’s how Google has kept the feature set for free users.
Today, Google announced that they will begin changing this requirement, starting in Canada. On November 3, YouTube Music users in Canada will be able to enable background listening, giving them the option to leave the YouTube Music app or lock their phone screen without cutting off playback.
This feature will allow you to take YouTube Music for a run and put your phone away, leave the app briefly to check an email, or open any other app while the beats keep playing. It’ll mean listening to continuous radio stations (with ads), enjoying all of the music you’ve uploaded manually, and jumping into personalized playlists too.
Google also mentioned that you can “keep streaming music and videos, on-demand, with the YouTube app,” as if background play is supported there as well.
No other countries were announced as getting this free background play feature, but I’d imagine they’ll keep rolling it out. It’s likely that Google needs approvals from the music industry per country.