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Is there a way to disable the Google Play Music icon in the menu bar, while keeping Google Play Music running?

Google Play Music Icon

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If you've already tried Command-dragging it out of the menu bar (although draggable menu itmes are a private API feature, as pointed out by comments below and usually only works with system icons like Time Machine, clock, battery, and volume), I'd recommend

Bartender (free in beta, $7 full version)

Bartender allows you full control of your menu bar by adding a second, hidden but easily accessible menu bar to organize all of your icons. Alternatively, you could request that Broomstick (free) be updated for Google Play.

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Draggable menu items are a private API feature. They are mostly system integrated menus such as clock, battery and volume and some, but rare, third-party applications like iStatMenu. – Max Ried Oct 8 '12 at 5:55
right, editing answer accordingly; thank you @MaxRied – Ethan Lee Oct 8 '12 at 14:03

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