Recently I picked up a new Google Play Music subscription to test out some Google Assistant connected devices. One of the perks of my newly purchased subscription was YouTube Red. I honestly never thought I’d care much about YouTube Red as I’ve been fine with watching ads. It wasn’t until I actually started using YouTube Red that I became very fond of the ad-free feature. It’s really awesome that Google throws in the service with a Google Play Music subscription, but it’s also become frustrating. Here’s why.
First off, let me say, this isn’t as much of a ranting editorial as it is a PSA. I understand Google has their rules in place for a reason but this particular rule is sort of infuriating from time to time. I discovered this little “gotcha” while I was watching some tech videos on YouTube. As I was enjoying the video, suddenly the video stopped and I got the message you see in the screenshot above.
What the hell? Who was using my account without my knowledge? I have two-factor authentication enabled and my account is pretty locked down. I realized that the exact moment my YouTube stream stopped, my kids had requested Google Assistant to play some music on our Google connected smart speakers. It didn’t take long for me to put two and two together. After some digging, here’s what I found on YouTube’s help page.
As a YouTube Red member, you can only stream music-related videos on one device at a time. This limitation can apply to any video on YouTube that’s categorized as music, such as a music video or certain videos with music playing in the background. If you’re streaming music-related videos and you begin streaming a second music-related video from another device, you’ll see an error message on the first device. The second video will continue playing.
We recommend having separate individual YouTube accounts to avoid this issue. If several members of your family would like to join YouTube Red, you can sign up for a YouTube Red family plan. All family members included in your family plan will get access to YouTube Red.
Basically here’s the deal. If you happen to be watching YouTube and the video you are watching is categorized as “music” or has certain music playing in the background. YouTube considers this a music stream and will not allow you to stream on two devices at once. That includes any music being streamed from Google Play Music. You have to buy a YouTube Red family subscription in order for you to use multiple devices.
I’m fully appreciative that YouTube Red is included in a Google Play Music subscription but this is pretty annoying. I’m totally on-board with the no music videos streaming while streaming music from Google Play Music, but when I’m watching a tech video that’s not music, well, I expect to be able to watch that video. There are some workarounds I’ve found on the web but none really that great.
The best one is to open YouTube in an incognito window to watch videos. Of course, this takes the ability to like or comment away since you are not logged in. Other solutions are to login to YouTube on different browsers, like Firefox for YouTube and Chrome for Google Play Music. I haven’t tried that but I don’t like this idea either.
I’m sure I’m not going to change YouTube or Google’s policy here, but it would be great if the algorithm could exclude non-music videos even if there is background music playing. In the meantime, I guess we just deal with it.