YouTube Music will launch free background listening starting in Canada

YouTube Music is lifting one of its most annoying limitations — but only in Canada. Today, YouTube announced that beginning November 3rd, customers in Canada will be able to continue listening to their music in the background while doing other tasks on their phone or when the screen is off.

Background listening will support both the standard ad-supported, personalized radio mixes and any uploaded content you’ve added to your account.

This is the first time that YouTube Music has offered the feature without requiring that customers step up to a Premium subscription to get it. As for when listeners in other countries can expect to get the same convenience, for now, YouTube is only saying to “stay tuned for additional information and expansion plans.”

Free background listening is table stakes among YouTube Music’s competitors, including Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, and others, so this is an area where YouTube lags its rivals. Hopefully, that expansion will get underway sooner than later.

Even if background playback comes to the free tier, YouTube Music Premium still has other benefits: offline downloads is the big one, but you also get to listen without any ads and seamlessly switch between regular audio and music videos.