How To Listen to Music on YouTube without Playing Video on an iPhone

Posted by Jamie on April 9, 2019

While predominantly about video YouTube is also about the music. There are more music videos and playlists on the site than other content and with the rise of streaming over owning, that isn’t going to change. So can you listen to music on YouTube without playing video on an iPhone?

Yes you can.

If you don’t have an unlimited data plan with your phone, you need to manage consumption within those data limitations. As video requires a lot of data, enjoying a bit of YouTube action without video can save you a ton of data.

Playing audio uses a lot less data than video.

  • Low quality music runs at 96kbps and uses around 0.72MB per minute or 43.2MB per hour.
  • Normal quality music runs at 160kbps and uses around 1.20MB per minute or 72MB per hour on average.
  • High quality music runs at 320kbps and uses around 2.40MB per minute or 115.2MB per hour on average.

Streaming video uses a whole lot more.

  • Low quality video runs at 240p or 320p and uses around 300MB per hour.
  • SD quality video runs at 480p and uses around 700MB per hour.
  • HD-quality video runs at 1080p and uses around 0.9GB per hour.
  • A 4K video stream uses about 7.2GB per hour.

You can see the difference. Listen to high quality audio at only 115MB per hour versus an HD video stream at almost 1GB per hour. That’s a huge difference when calculated over a month. If you were watching a movie or TV show, that wouldn’t be an issue but as you’re streaming a huge volume of data for a video you’re not even going to watch, it is a bit of a waste.

Listen to music on YouTube without playing video

There is a way to listen to music on YouTube without playing video that doesn’t shut off when you turn off your screen. Usually when you play media, as soon as your screen shuts off, the playback stops. This is a battery saving feature but works more often against you than for you.

To listen even when the screen is off you can listen using Safari or other browser, subscribe to YouTube Premium use your Earpods if you have them.

Listen to music on YouTube through a browser

You can use Safari or another browser if you prefer to play the video in the background while keeping the audio running. It works right now as I tested it on iOS 12.

  1. Open YouTube in your browser and set something playing.
  2. Select the Sharing icon at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Select Request Desktop Site from the popup.
  4. Start the video playing again.
  5. Select the tabs icon in the bottom right of the screen and open in a new tab.
  6. Open any website you like in a new tab.
  7. Shut down your screen or continue using your phone while the audio plays in the background within loading the video.

This works on Safari and Firefox. I don’t know about other browsers as these are the only two I have.

Listen to music on YouTube Premium

If you’re really into your music, you can subscribe to YouTube Premium. It has a specific audio-only feature that you can use as part of the package. Called Background Play, this function allows you to listen to music from within the YouTube app without video or even while your iPhone is shut down.

It’s a shame this is a premium feature but is one reason you might want to subscribe. YouTube Premium costs $11.99 a month and offers a bunch of other features too but for this article, Background Play is exactly what we want.

Listen to music on YouTube using Earpods

If you ponied up for the Apple Earpods, you can use those to play music while your phone’s screen is off. It’s a bit of a hack that apparently works with other earbuds too but I saw it work briefly when testing with a friend who has Earpods.

  1. Play your YouTube video as you normally would and turn your iPhone screen off.
  2. The audio will stop as normal but if you press play on the Earpods, it will start again.

There are also alternative YouTube players that enable you to listen to music on YouTube without playing video. They include Jasmine, MxTube, Musi and others. VLC has the option too.

Do you know of other ways to listen to music on YouTube without playing video? Is there an app for that? Tell us about it below if you know of other ways to do it.

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