Discord Rolls Out Watch Together Feature After Banning Music Bots From Platform

by in General | Sep, 24th 2021

Discord’s community has created some fantastic tools for servers that allow communities to engage in fun mini-games, listen to music together using music bots, or pull stats from services like FaceIt. However, it seems that Discord wants to increase their involvement in how communities interact with each other as Discord’s been pivoting away as a VoIP solution for gamers to becoming the preferred platform for online communities. Discord’s been involved in rolling out new features that are meant to diversify how communities can interact with each other. Earlier this year, Discord rolled out their Stage Discovery feature which was meant to serve as a lecture/live speech option for community figures to speak in more formal speaking conditions than Discord’s default voice chat. As Discord seeks to provide more options for non-gaming entities to speak with their communities, features that exist in legal grey areas will be culled in-order for Discord to appeal to other entities in the social web space, like music bots. Now, Discord has announced a partnership with YouTube to bring a new feature to Discord that’s meant to occupy the space that was created by music bots like Groovy and Rythm.

Youtube on Discord: From Watch-Alongs to Music Playlists

According to a report from The Verge, Discord will begin integrating YouTube into select Discord servers in a new feature called “Watch Together.” The Watch Together features mimics the screen broadcast feature many Discord users are familiar with, but the Watch Together feature will allow users to create playlists and easily plug in YouTube links for playback within Discord. 

It’s honestly not that impressive a feature, and Discord music bots were light-weight solutions for communities that wanted to be able to listen to audio (regardless of source) together while engaged in other activities. However, Youtube sent notices to both Groovy and Rythm to shut down the bots as both services violated YouTube’s terms of service for modifying YouTube’s services and creating commercial services based off existing YouTube architecture, according to a report on Groovy bot’s closure by The Verge. 

The Watch Together feature will be another extension of the Google ecosystem that users can utilize through Discord if they so choose. The entire situation feels similar to defunct watch party streaming service rabb.it, which allowed users to stream virtual browsers and watch the same content in real-time. The challenge rabb.it had was that many of its users were sharing and streaming content that circumvented content rights and licenses that rabb.it did not have access to. The minute rabb.it could offer a commercial service using their product, they would have been challenged by rights holders. Much like Discord’s music bots, rabb.it was a light-weight, easy to use solution for users wanting to share content and spend time together that was ultimately undone by issues regarding exclusivity and content rights. The situation with YouTube and Discord’s music bots feel similar, and the solution Discord offers with its new Watch Together feature tries to remedy the loss of a popular service many users enjoyed. Over 250 million users enjoyed Groovy bot’s services, according to an article by Engadget. And best of all, it was ad free. 

The Verge reports that Discord’s Watch Together feature will include ads for users who do not have YouTube Premium. Perhaps the signs that this feature was on the way could be seen as far back as the announcement Discord made regarding Discord Nitro users gaining access to YouTube Premium for free for three months. The loss of popular music bots and the intrusiveness of YouTube’s ads may convince community leaders to invest in Nitro now that music bots are gone. Either way, it’s a loss that’s bound to affect how Discord users use the platform.


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