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Discord starts testing YouTube integration weeks after Google shuts down music bots

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Discord music returns, kind of

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Discord is starting to test YouTube integration, just weeks after Google-owned YouTube forced two popular Discord music bots offline. YouTube integration has started appearing in a small number of Discord servers today as part of what appears to be a new test of a collaboration between Discord and YouTube.

The feature is called Watch Together, and as the name implies, it allows Discord members to watch YouTube videos together. A test of a similar Discord feature started 10 months ago before disappearing and resurfacing as Watch Together today, and we understand the company has re-prioritized this particular feature due to the recent music bot shutdowns.

Discord’s new Watch Together feature in action.

Watch Together is very similar to the experience of someone broadcasting their screen in Discord, and the button to launch it even appears alongside the video and screen sharing options. It’s designed specifically with YouTube in mind, allowing Discord server members to create a playlist of YouTube videos by searching or pasting in YouTube links. You can even toggle a remote button that lets other Discord server members share the ability to control playback.

While it’s not identical to the popular Rythm and Groovy Discord music bots, you can use Watch Together to listen to music through YouTube in Discord. You may end up hearing or seeing ads, though. Discord warns, when you first use the Watch Together feature, that “you may see ads during YouTube videos.”

Discord’s YouTube ads warning.

The addition of ads and potential revenue opportunity for Google-owned YouTube comes just weeks after YouTube began aggressively shutting down Discord music bots. The Google-owned company sent a legal cease and desist letter to Groovy Bot last month, forcing the popular service offline within days. YouTube then turned its attention to the most popular Discord music bot, Rythm, and it ceased working earlier this month.

We understand that this is only rolling out to Discord friends and family servers today, followed by a wider beta to small servers and then broader availability in the next few weeks. Discord is tentatively aiming to launch it to all users by the end of October. If you’re interested in testing the feature, it’s currently live in Discord’s Game Labs server.

We reached out to both Discord and Google to comment on the new YouTube integration, but Discord declined to comment. Google did not respond in time for publication.

Update, September 22nd 4:25PM ET: Article updated with information about the ads experience in Watch Together.