Discord, the Slack-like chat and streaming app that has become the favorite hangout for gamers online, is about to get a little less musical.
The music streaming bot called Rhythm, a third-party plugin for Discord servers that allows users to stream music (or really any sound) directly from YouTube, is taken offline. The service will cease functioning on September 15 in response to a legal cease and desist request from Google.
“Somehow we knew it was going to happen eventually,” Rhythm creator Yoav told The Verge. “That’s why we started working on something new a year ago.” The same report also notes that Rhythm’s death comes just weeks after Google decided to kill a similar music bot, called Groovy. (The fun ended for Groovy on August 30.)
Yoav has hinted that work is underway on something else “in the musical space” that would tie into Discord in some way, but details beyond that are unclear at this. Stadium. But the creator of Rhythm also sees the death of their bot, along with Groovy, as some sort of canary in the coal mine for other cease and desist requests for music bot makers.
It’s just the nature of how Discord works. Plugins like Rhythm integrate perfectly with the platform. I’ve used Yoav’s creation a lot myself, and channeling music in voice chat is as easy as pointing the bot to a list of links or even a single link to a predefined YouTube playlist. The bot is not officially approved or supported by DIscord; the platform is just flexible enough to allow the thing to exist.
This means that Discord has an easier time shying away from responsibility for how people use the platform. But it also leaves the creators of musical robots and other quality of life features themselves exposed to potential repercussions.
While in truth it is not known exactly what Rhythm (or Groovy, or any other musical robot) is doing, it is such a problem. Discord servers – that’s what every privately organized social space on the platform is called – can be monetized, but most of them are not. So the most common use for something like Rhythm is for friends to stream music together while they are playing.
It is possible that YouTube will take these steps as it may have its own offering connected to Discord in the works. At the end of 2021, Discord revealed it was playing around with new options for partying and playing games together on a server, and that feature appears to include a YouTube Together monitoring bot. But it’s not something that anyone can use at this point.
It’s one of those natural growing pains that all social media platforms tend to endure as they grow in size and profile. The pace has essentially become too big for its own good; The Verge report notes that the bot lives on over 20 million servers. There are still many native options built into Discord for people who want to stream audio or video in their group voice chats. Robots like Rhythm and Groovy have simply streamlined this process and made it easier. Hopefully, the eventual officially sanctioned Google successor will do the same, assuming that comes to pass.