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Killed by Google in 2021, the most popular music bot Discord is back from the dead

There used to be Discord a more lawless land. For years, music bots roamed freely across servers and group chats, unencumbered by lofty concerns like “licensing” or “probably illegal activity,” serving ad-free audio from YouTube videos on demand.

It’s no surprise, then, that Discord’s music bots have been living on borrowed time – time that passed in 2021, when Google terminated the makers of popular music bots for violating YouTube’s terms of service and “using it for commercial purposes.” Which they like, yes. Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue with that.

Among those selected as part of the great music bot purge was Rythm, who w time of death as of September 2021, it boasted approximately 30 million users across 20 million Discord servers. The writing has been on the wall for Rythm since August, when Google he dropped the hammer on Groovy, another extremely popular music bot. Before the ax fell, Rythm creator Yoav Zimet he told The Verge that its creators are “working on something new”.

Almost three years later, Zimet’s prediction is starting to come true. Rhythm has come back from the dead and is relaunching today not as an illegal bot selling audio recordings collected on YouTube, but, as the press release states, as “the world’s first community-driven platform for group music listening.” In other words, it’s like Spotify if you can only use Spotify while Discord chatting with other people. Rythm, now one of Discord’s built-in activities, offers synchronized music for servers and voice calls, but requires a group to listen.

Apparently Rythm has spent the last three years pursuing music licensing deals and venture capital investments. While this sounds like the worst three years anyone can spend, it means that your old music bot friend has stopped working. Of course, legality comes at a price: to freely host listening sessions from the Rythm music library, you have to pay five bucks a month for Rythm premium subscription. Otherwise, free users are limited to listening to their premium friends’ sessions or pre-selected radio stations from Rythm and premium subscribers.

It’s nice to have an easy option to listen to music while hanging out on Discord, but I imagine what will make or break Rythm’s revival is how well its music catalog – around 50 million songs, according to the press release – can provide music that people will actually like I want to look for. I admit that 50 million is already more than I expected; for comparison, Spotify’s claims its catalog contains approximately 100 million songs. That’s more than I managed to collect in three years. And I’ve never received a DMCA from Google for stealing music, so you’d think it would be easier for me.

(Image: Discord, Rythm)

Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to use Rythm for solo listening, you’ll only get a few minutes of music. Curious about the heat Rythm was generating, I launched a new Discord activity on the test server to see what was available. Selecting the radio station “Sad Songs”, I listened to two and a half songs – one by Lana Del Rey, the other by an artist named “Juice WRLD” – before it paused because I was listening with no one else on the phone.

“Rhythm is for groups,” the pop-up told me when I realized I was alone in a dimly lit basement apartment. “You can continue adding songs and it will continue playing when someone arrives.” According to Rythm’s website, even premium subscribers can’t listen alone because the requirement to listen in a group “allows us to be cheaper than other music streaming services.”

Ah yes. If you have friends, you can start Rythm on Discord today. Rythm also hopes to launch standalone mobile application later this year, although you probably still won’t be able to use it on your own.