Rythm Returns: Discord’s Community-Based Music Platform

In its early days, Discord was a wild west for music bots. These bots freely roamed servers and group DMs, delivering ad-free audio from YouTube videos without worrying about licensing issues or legality. However, this era came to an end in 2021 when Google issued cease-and-desist letters to the developers of popular music bots for violating YouTube’s terms of service and using the platform for commercial purposes.

The Demise of Popular Bots

One of the most notable casualties was Rythm, which, at its peak in September 2021, boasted around 30 million users across 20 million Discord servers. The crackdown had begun in August when Google shut down Groovy, another widely used music bot. Rythm’s creator, Yoav Zimet, hinted to The Verge at the time that the developers were “working on something new.”

Rythm’s Revival

Nearly three years later, Zimet’s vision has materialized. Rythm is making a comeback, reintroduced as “the world’s first community-based group listening music platform.” Unlike its previous incarnation, Rythm now operates within Discord as a built-in activity, offering synchronized music for servers and voice calls. However, it requires a group to listen, making it akin to a group version of Spotify.

Licensing and Investments

During its hiatus, Rythm focused on securing music licensing deals and venture capital investments. This transition to legitimacy comes with a price: hosting listening sessions from Rythm’s extensive music library—boasting around 50 million songs—requires a premium subscription at $5 per month. Free users can still join sessions hosted by premium subscribers or listen to pre-curated radio stations.

User Experience

The success of Rythm’s return hinges on the quality and appeal of its music catalog. While Spotify claims a catalog of about 100 million songs, Rythm’s 50 million songs are still impressive. To test Rythm’s offerings, we explored the new Discord activity on a test server. The “Sad Songs” curated radio station featured tracks from artists like Lana Del Rey and Juice WRLD. However, playback paused after two and a half songs because no one else was in the voice call, highlighting Rythm’s group listening requirement.

Subscription Details

For solo listeners, Rythm only provides a few minutes of music. Even premium subscribers must adhere to the group listening rule, which, according to Rythm’s website, helps keep the service more affordable compared to other music streaming services. The premium subscription at $5 per month allows users to host listening sessions from Rythm’s library, while free users are limited to listening to sessions hosted by premium subscribers or accessing pre-curated radio stations.

Looking Forward

Rythm’s resurrection brings a legitimate, community-focused music option to Discord. While it remains to be seen how well the platform’s music catalog will resonate with users, Rythm’s innovative approach to group listening offers a unique way to enjoy music together on Discord. This new model could set a precedent for other music bots and platforms looking to operate within legal frameworks while fostering community interaction.