Today we mourn another Discord music bot that has met the wrath of YouTube: the popular Vexera music bot has discontinued its music functionality after receiving a cease and desist notice from the streaming giant.
"On the 4th of July we have received a notice from YouTube demanding we cease activity of streaming audio from YouTube as part of our music feature," reads a notice on the Vexera site. "YouTube is integral to the music feature and we cannot continue without it."
The Vexera music bot, like many before it, offered a convenient way to listen to music synchronized with other people in voice chat. With a simple search command, the bot would search YouTube, find the video you're looking for, and stream its audio to everyone in the channel. According to Vexera, the bot was active in over 3 million Discord servers.
Vexera's announcement reads like a near-perfect echo of the downfall of Groovy, the ultra-popular music bot (active in 16 million servers at its height) that was shut down by Google almost two years ago. After Groovy's closure, those 16 million servers scattered to the wind in search of a suitable replacement. I tried out a few candidates in my own Discord server before settling on Vexera. Oof.
Neither Vexera nor Groovy have shared exactly why YouTube threatened legal action, but in 2021 a YouTube spokesperson said Groovy violated its terms of service by "modifying the service and using it for commercial purposes." In other words, Google is taking issue with music bots bypassing YouTube's ads on top of offering paid premium memberships for extra features that Google, presumably, receives no money from.
When Groovy shuttered in 2021, users worried that it signaled the end of all music bots on the platform, and as an extension, the end of the salad days of Discord—hyper-convenient and unmarred by business realities.
Google has not been as ferocious as anticipated in persecuting music bots in the years since. At least one other popular bot has gotten the boot, but others remain today.
Some thought that the introduction of Discord's officially-sanctioned YouTube Watch Together app in 2022 (which supports ads) would be the final nail in the coffin. It wasn't, possibly because I don't know a single person who's ever used it when streaming a browser tab is much easier. Perhaps the remaining music bots are only still around because their footprint is too small for Google to notice.
Vexera's closure is a bitter reminder that one of Discord's best perks exists only at the whim of the mega-corporation that's allowing it. With Discord itself increasingly becoming a less welcoming place for free users, I wonder if another feature that lets users share paid content for free (Go Live streaming) is next on the chopping block.