If you are anything like me, you don’t like to pull out your smartphone to browse for the music you’d like to hear. So you’re standing there, in front of Alexa, wondering what you can say, to get the most out of your Echos and your music service.
Well, Alexa is always awaiting your command.
In this post we will look into the many voice commands you can use, to enjoy all the music services supported by Alexa. Let’s dive in …
Update 2018-08-02: Added some new commands, the “station” feature from your feedback and the new EQ feature (initially US only). In case you’re revisiting this page, updates are in green.
Update 2018-08-13: Alexa is a pretty good beatboxer and rapper. You can watch her in the latest AI-News episode rap battle (just rewind, in case you want to watch the full episode including news):
Just a quick note regarding the voice commands below:
- Below table of contents, will help you to quickly jump to the commands you are interested in. Just swipe back on your mobile to return here.
- <…> … I will spare you my musical taste, fill in your <title>, <artist>, <genre>, etc.
- / … Our assistant understands various phrases for the same command. This means either/or, just pick one.
- ( ) … This part of the command is optional. If you prefer short, snappy voice commands, you can omit this part of the command.
Table of contents
- Commands by Music Service
- Controlling the Volume
- Controlling the Playback
- Controlling the Equalizer
- Navigating the Music Database
- Controlling your Library and Playlists
- Listening to Radio Stations
- Getting Music Information
- Manage and Listen To Podcasts
- Controlling Music Playback on another Speaker
- Setting a Sleep Timer and Music Alarm
Commands by Music Service
Amazon Music Unlimited is Amazon’s native, and therefore most extensive music service for your Echos. Here we can look into all music voice commands, which Alexa understands. Other services provide a subset.
While Amazon Prime has a reduced music library with about 2 Million songs compared to Amazon Music Unlimited with 40 Million songs, it also lacks some features, like searching by lyrics and getting all the new songs.
With Spotify Premium having over 30 Million songs in it’s library, you cannot tag your favorites. However, if there is a playlist in Spotify, even for activities and moods, you can access it with Alexa.
Pandora, TuneIn and iHeartRadio, since they are radio like services, have natural limitations around playback and selecting specific music.
Following overview across the available music services, sheds some light on which features are supported, for which service:
Note, if you have not set your preferred service as default music service in the Alexa app, make sure to add “…from Prime Music”, “… on Spotify”, “…on TuneIn”, etc. at the end of your voice commands.
Controlling the Volume
Following voice commands will change Alexas volume in 10% increments:
- Alexa, (change/make/turn the) volume up / down
- Alexa (make it) softer/louder
- Alexa, lower/raise (the) volume
- Alexa, increase/decrease (the) volume
- Alexa, turn/crank it up/down
Another way to specifically set the volume level is:
- Alexa, (set the) volume (to level) <1-10>
- Alexa, volume 3 (Note, thats the snappy, short command)
Furthermore you can mute Alexa:
- Alexa, mute/unmute
Controlling the Playback
You can stop and resume playback by saying:
- Alexa, play/resume (music)
- Alexa, stop/pause
But you can also start a station you might like:
- Alexa, play some music
To navigate within an album or playlist, just say:
- Alexa, next/previous (song/track/title)
- Alexa, skip (this song)
To navigate within a song, you can say:
- Alexa, play (this song) from (the) beginning
- Alexa, restart (this song)
- Alexa, jump/skip back/forward (x seconds/minute(s))
For shuffling and repeating we can use:
- Alexa, repeat (this song)
- Alexa, loop (this album/this playlist)
- Alexa, (turn) repeat (on/off) (Note, “off” will stop playback)
- Alexa, (turn) shuffle (on/off)
Controlling the Equalizer
Introduced end of July 2018 (initially only in US), we now have an equalizer to control the bass, mid-range and treble of our Echo devices.
You can check the availability of this feature in the Alexa app under Options, your Echo device, sounds. If you find a equalizer setting at the top of the page, the commands will work.
- Alexa, increase/decrease (the) bass/mid-range/treble
- Alexa, turn/crank up/down (the) bass/mid-range/treble
- Alexa, set (the) bass/mid-range/treble to minimum/maximum
- Alexa, set bass/mid-range/treble to (minus) <1-6> Note, we have a range of +/- 6 dB which we can explicitly set.
To get back to neutral EQ settings, we can say:
- Alexa, reset (the) equalizer
There are so many ways which lead to your favorite music in the millions of songs, that we need to structure this a bit …
Playing by Title/Album/Artist
If you know what you want to hear, you can say:
- Alexa, play (the song/track/title/tune) <title>
- Alexa, play/shuffle (the album/record) <album>
- Alexa, play/shuffle (songs/music by) <artist>
- Alexa, play (the song/track/title/tune) <title> by <artist>
- Alexa, play (the album/record) <album> by <artist>
Playing by Genre
- Alexa, play <genre> music
Here are the main genres from Amazons database:
- Alternative & Indie
- Children’s Music
- Classic Rock
- Dance & Electronic
- Easy Listening
- Hard Rock & Metal
- New Age & Meditation
- Opera & Vocal
- Rap & Hip-Hop
Alexa supposedly knows around 500 undocumented activities and moods which you can use to play music which fits to what you are up to. These are basically (curated) playlists created by Amazon for frequently requested activities / moods.
- Alexa, play music for <activity>
- Alexa, play (some) <activity/mood> music
Here are some activities, which I have tested (musically =):
- Wake Up
- Running / Jogging / Workout
- Party / Partying / Dancing
- Working / Study / Studying / Reading
- Cleaning / Cooking / Dinner
- Relaxing / Meditation / Chill-out
Here are some examples for moods, which Alexa understands:
- Feel Good
- Laid Back
Combining Moods, Activities and Genres
Now comes the crazy part: You can combine some moods, genres and activities. Of course only, if Amazon has created a playlist, which matches.
- Alexa, play mellow meditation music
- Alexa, play sad blues music
- Alexa, play happy latin music
- Alexa, play classical music for sleeping
- Alexa, play mellow country music
Playing New Music
Want to hear some fresh tunes? Here’s what to say:
- Alexa, play brand new music
- Alexa, play new songs by <artist>
- Alexa, play new <genre> music
Playing Popular/Regional Music
Interested in what is trending someplace, sometime, some genre?
- Alexa, play the top/best songs
- Alexa, play the top/best <genre> songs
- Alexa, play the top/best songs from the 80s
- Alexa, play the top songs in <city>
- Alexa, play what’s hot in <country>
Playing Something You Rarely Hear
If you’d like to hear some rare songs from your library:
- Alexa, play something I haven’t heard
- Alexa, play <artist> songs, I haven’t heard
According to Amazon, following commands should also work (they do not in my case):
- Alexa, play the <artist / genre / station / playlist> I was listening to on <day>
- Alexa, play the <artist / genre> songs I heard <yesterday (morning / afternoon) / last night>
Playing Similar Music
There’s this one catchy tune and you’d like to hear more like that:
- Alexa, play more like this/that
- Alexa, play songs similar to <title>
- Alexa, play songs similar to <artist>
A nice feature – thanks to Briane and Dawn – which comes via Amazon Music Prime are artist “stations”, which will play songs similar to the artist you have chosen, along with some of their best songs:
- Alexa, play <artist> station
Playing Favorites and Liking/Disliking
Alexa can play stations based on your preferences:
- Alexa, play (some other) music I like
If we want Alexa to be able to find our favorite music, we need to tell her what we like:
- Alexa, thumbs up / down
- Alexa, I like / don’t like this song
Just in case there’s this one nasty tune hunting us:
- I’m tired of this song
Playing by Lyrics
If you’re like me, you might rather remember some lyrics snippets of your favorite songs, than their title. No worries, Alexa got you covered:
- Alexa, play the song that goes <lyrics>
- Alexa, what’s the song that goes <lyrics>
Controlling your Library and Playlists
You can control what goes into your music library by saying:
- Alexa, add this song to my library
And you can control what you’d like to hear from there:
- Alexa, play my music by <artist>
- Alexa, play some <genre/artist> from my library
To listen to your own playlists, you can say:
- Alexa, play my playlist <playlist>
- Alexa, listen to my <playlist> playlist
- Alexa, shuffle my <playlist> playlist
To create and add to your playlists, try:
- Alexa, start a new playlist (Note, this doesn’t work for me)
- Alexa, add this song to my playlist <playlist> (Note, this doesn’t work for me)
Listening to Radio Stations
Listening to radio stations is as straightforward as:
- Alexa, play <genre/station> radio
- Alexa, play the station <station>
Note: if you want to listen to a different service, add e.g. “… on TuneIn” to your command.
Getting Music Information
Alexa has a bit of information, when asked about what’s playing:
- Alexa, what (song/tune) is this?
She can also answer:
- Alexa, what was the top song in <year>
Manage and Listen To Podcasts
Alexa, supports playing podcasts (with very limited features):
- Play the (latest episode of the) podcast <podcast>
Controlling Music Playback on another Speaker
To be able to control your music playback throughout your home on many devices, you can either create a Multi Room Music Group (e.g. everywhere) and/or assign your individual Alexa devices to Smart Home Groups (e.g. kitchen). You can control the playback by saying:
- Alexa, play <song/album/artist/genre> in the <group>
- Alexa, next in <group>
- Alexa, stop in <group>
- Alexa, play <song/album/artist/genre> everywhere
Setting a Sleep Timer and Music Alarm
To set a sleep timer, we can say:
- Alexa, set a sleep timer for 30 seconds/minutes/hours
- Alexa, stop playing in 1 hour
- Alexa, cancel sleep timer
You can set a music alarm by saying:
- Alexa wake me up to music at 6 AM (every weekday)
- Alexa, wake me up to <song/album/artist/genre/playlist> at 7 AM (every tuesday)
- Alexa, wake me up to the song that goes <lyrics> at 8 AM (at weekends)
- Alexa, cancel/disable 7 am alarm
- Alexa, cancel/disable (all) alarm/s
Note: If you have not set the music service you’d like to hear as default music service, add e.g. “… on TuneIn” to your command.
Impressed by the many music services and commands which Alexa supports, I (again) nearly lost my voice, testing the many commands multiple times.
Strong in features like playing songs by lyrics, Alexa doesn’t give us a lot of music information. The sleep timer and music alarm, are helpful features supported across the different services.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this extensive list of Alexa’s music commands and it helps you to get the most out of your music services.
You can find more Alexa posts here: Amazon Alexa.
The musical showdown between our assistants, is already here: Musical Assistant Showdown: Who will win, Siri, Google or Alexa?
If you have any questions or new music commands, please share with us in the comment section below!
For more information from Amazon, see Amazon: Listen to your music.