Discord, the Slack-like chat and streaming app that’s become a preferred gathering place for online gamers, is about to get a little less musical.
The music-streaming bot called, Rhythm, a third-party plugin for Discord servers that lets users stream in music (or really any audio) directly from YouTube, is going offline. The service will cease functioning on Sept. 15 in response to a cease and desist legal demand from Google.
“One way or another we knew this was due to happen eventually,” Rhythm creator Yoav told The Verge. “Which is why we started working on something new a year ago.” The same report also notes that the death of Rhythm comes only a few weeks after Google moved to kill off a similar music bot, called Groovy. (The fun ended for Groovy on Aug. 30.)
Yoav hinted that work is underway on something else “in the music space” that will tie to Discord in some way, but the specifics beyond that aren’t clear at this point. But the Rhythm creator also sees the death of their bot, along with Groovy, as sort of canaries in the coal mine for other cease and desist requests aimed at music bot creators.
It’s just the nature of how Discord works. Plugins like Rhythm integrate with the platform seamlessly. I’ve used Yoav’s creation extensively myself, and piping music into voice chat is as simple as pointing the bot to a list of links or even just one link to a pre-made YouTube playlist. The bot isn’t officially endorsed or supported by DIscord; the platform is just flexible enough to allow the thing to exist.
That means Discord has an easier time dodging any responsibility for how people use the platform. But it also leaves the creators of music bots and other quality-of-life features exposed to potential repercussions themselves.
Though in truth, it’s not clear exactly what Rhythm (or Groovy, or any other music bot) does that’s such a problem. Discord servers — that’s what each privately curated social space on the platform is called — can be monetized, but most of them aren’t. So the most common use for something like Rhythm is friends streaming music together while they game.
It’s possible that YouTube is making these moves because it may have a Discord-connected offering of its own in the works. At the end of 2021, Discord revealed that it’s toying with new options for partying up and playing games together on a server, and that feature appears to include a YouTube Together watch party bot. But it’s not something that just anyone can use at this point.
This is one of those natural growing pains that all social media platforms tend to endure as they grow in size and in profile. Rhythm essentially got too big for its own good; The Verge report notes that the bot lives on more than 20 million servers. There are still plenty of native options built into Discord for people who want to pipe audio or video into their group voice chats. Bots like Rhythm and Groovy simply streamlined that process and made it easier. Hopefully, Google’s eventual officially sanctioned successor will do the same, assuming it comes to fruition.