Google Assistant Starr
Google Home singing: "I don't ask for much, I only want your trust. And you know it don't come easy ..."

“Hey Google, play the album with a diving baby and a one dollar bill on its cover.” “Alright, here’s the album Nevermind on Google Play Music.”

Seriously?

There’s a bunch of commands and features in this post, which will surprise you. In this post we will look into the many voice commands you can use to enjoy all the music services supported by Google Home. Let’s dive in …

Update 2018-08-02: Added some new commands and features from your feedback. In case you’re revisiting this page, updates are in green.

Update 2018-08-13: Google is a pretty good beatboxer and rapper. You can watch him 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.

Commands by Music Service

Google Play Music is Google’s native, most extensive music service for Google Home with around 40 Million songs in its library. Here we will find all the music commands, which Google Assistant understands. Other music services provide only a subset.

With YouTube Music, you get access to your personalized stations. You can play any song and also track your favorites (likes) from Youtube. With Youtube Red, which is included in a Google Play Music subscription, you can additionally play your Youtube videos ads-free, have music playing in the background on your android device and download music for an offline mixtape.

Spotify Premium has over 30 Million songs in its library and Google Home supports it like no other. If there is a playlist in Spotify, even for activities and moods, you can access it with Google Home. Novel features like playing by lyrics and album cover description are also supported for Spotify.

Pandora, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio, since they are radio-like services, have natural limitations around playback and selecting specific music.

Following overview of the available music services, sheds some light on which features are supported, for which service:

Google Assistant Music Voice Commands
Google Home Music Voice Commands across Music Services

Note, if you have not set your preferred service as default music service in the Google Home app, make sure to add “… on Google Play Music”, “… on Spotify”, “…on TuneIn”, etc. at the end of your voice commands.

Controlling the Volume

Following voice commands will change Google’s volume in 10% increments:

  • Hey Google, (change/make/turn the) volume up / down
  • Hey Google, (make it) softer/louder
  • Hey Google, lower/raise (the) volume
  • Hey Google, increase/decrease (the) volume
  • Hey Google, turn it up/down

If you’d like to set the volume to a specific level:

  • Hey Google, (set the) volume (to level) <1-10>
  • Hey Google, volume 3 (Note, that’s the snappy, short command)
  • Hey Google, (set/turn the volume to) 50 percent

Note, you can check the volume with the command:

  • Hey Google, what’s the volume?

And if you need some extremes (level 10 and level 1):

  • Hey Google, volume max/minimum
  • Hey Google, crank it up

For muting Google Home, you have following commands:

  • Hey Google, mute/unmute

Controlling the Playback

You can stop and resume playback by saying:

  • Hey Google, play/resume/continue (the music)
  • Hey Google, stop/pause (the music)

But you can also listen to some music you might like:

  • Hey Google, play/shuffle some music

To navigate within an album or playlist, just say:

  • Hey Google, next/previous (song/track/tune)
  • Hey Google, skip (this song)

To navigate within a song, you can say:

  • Hey Google, play (this song) from (the) beginning 
  • Hey Google, restart (this) song
  • Hey Google, jump/skip back/forward (x seconds/minute(s))

For shuffling and repeating we can use:

  • Hey Google, repeat (the) song
  • Hey Google, (turn) repeat/loop on/off
  • Hey Google, shuffle 

Controlling the Equalizer 

Though there are no voice commands to control the equalizer, it’s worth to mention that there is an equalizer settings page in the Google Home app and two ways to get there:

  1. Tap the top right menu, devices, click on the 3 dots in the top right of the device where you’d like to change the equalizer settings. From there pick settings and you will find the Equalizer setting under Sound settings.
  2. If you’re currently playing back music, you can tap the speaker button under your device in the Devices page. This opens up the volume control with an equalizer button on the top right.

In the equalizer settings page, you can control bass and treble in the range of +/- 6 dB in 0.5 increments.

Navigating the Music Database

Since there are so many ways which lead to your favorite music in the millions of songs, we need to structure this a bit …

Playing by Title/Album/Artist

If you know what you want to hear, you can say:

  • Hey Google, play (the song/track/title) <title> 
  • Hey Google, play/shuffle (the album/record) <album> 
  • Hey Google, play/shuffle (songs/music by) <artist> 
  • Hey Google, play (the song/track/title) <title> by <artist> 
  • Hey Google, play (the album/record) <album> by <artist> 

Playing by Genre

  • Hey Google, play <genre> music

Following genre list comes from “Improve my recommendations” in the Google Play Music settings on the web (Note, make sure you let Google know your favorite genres and artists):

  • Alternative/Indie
  • Blues
  • Christian/Gospel
  • Classical
  • Country
  • Dance/Electronic
  • Folk
  • Hip-Hop/Rap
  • Jazz
  • Latin
  • Metal
  • New Age
  • Pop
  • R&B/Soul
  • Reggae
  • Rock
  • Vocal/Easy Listening
  • World

Playing Activity and Mood Related Music

Google Assistant has some activities and moods defined, which you can use to play music which fits what you are up to. These are mapped to (curated) playlists and stations.

  • Hey Google, play music for <activity>
  • Hey Google, play (some) <activity/mood> music

Here are some activities, I have tested:

  • Working
  • Driving
  • Falling Asleep
  • Boosting Your Energy
  • Relaxing
  • Making Dinner
  • Being Romantic
  • Having Fun
  • Dancing
  • Working out
  • Family Time

Google understands following moods:

  • Energetic
  • Calm
  • Exhausted
  • Focused
  • Happy
  • Party Mood
  • Romantic
  • Confident
  • Sad
  • Angry

Combining Moods, Activities and Genres

Now comes the crazy part: You can combine some moods, genres and activities. If Google has foreseen your request, there is a matching station:

  • Angry Workout -> station Rock your Body: A Workout
  • Romantic Dinner Party -> station Pop & Indie Easy Listening
  • Sad Blues -> station Winter Blues
  • Classical Music for Sleeping -> station Modern Classical Music for Bedtime
  • Relaxed Country Music -> station Come Away With Me

Playing New Music

To play a station out of your “brand new music” suggestions, just say:

  • Hey Google, play brand new music

If you want to hear some fresh tracks from your favorite artist, you can say:

  • Hey Google, play new songs by <artist>
  • Hey Google, play new <genre> music

A nice feature which works with Google Play Music – thanks Joe for sharing it with us – is to request the latest album by artist:

  • Hey Google, play <artist>’s new album. Note, this unfortunately does not work with Spotify

Playing Popular Music

  • Hey Google, play the top hits
  • Hey Google, play the top <genre> songs
  • Hey Google, play the top songs from the 80s

Note, for Google Play Music: Google mostly comes back with “Sure, here are some songs”. When compared to the responses in the Google Assistant app, it seems this feature works better from the app.

Playing Similar Music

A very nice feature which works with Google Play Music. Thanks a lot Roshan for sharing it with us!

  1. We have already seen that we can play music of only one artist:
    • Hey Google, play/shuffle (songs/music by) <artist> 
  2. BUT we can also play a mixed station for an artist, including the artist’s and similar music from other artists
    • Hey Google, play songs like <artist> Note, Google will reply “playing <artist> radio mix”. Another Note, Spotify delivers only one artist during latest tests.

Playing Favorites and Liking/Disliking

To listen to your favorites on Google Play Music, say:

  • Hey Google, play (my) thumbs up (playlist)

For Spotify:

  • Hey Google, play my songs (on Spotify)

To tell Google, what to put into the thumb-up auto-playlist, just say:

  • Hey Google, thumbs up
  • Hey Google, I like/love this song

If you want to let Google know, that you don’t like a song, you can say:

  • Hey Google, thumbs down
  • Hey Google, I don’t like this song

Playing by Lyrics

If you’re like me, you rather remember the lyrics (snippets) of your favorite songs, than their title. No worries, Google got you covered:

  • Hey Google, play (the song that goes) <lyrics>

Playing by Describing the Album Cover

Sorry, to spoil this feature already in the first sentence of this post. You can describe an album cover, and Google can (sometimes) find the right record:

  • Hey Google, play the album with <cover-description> (on its cover).

Here are some other examples:

  • Hey Google, play the album with four men crossing a street
  • Hey Google, play the album with a prism and rainbow-colored light rays 
  • Hey Google, play the album with two stone faces, facing each other
  • Hey Google, play the album with a banana
  • Hey Google, play the album with neon ice-cream
  • Hey Google, play the album with red lips and a red tongue 

Playing by Location

Google Home is always at home, why to look into location-based music? Well, locations (from your smartphone) are only one example of your data, which Google can take into account when personalizing music suggestions for you.

“Working from Home – Looks like you’re at home”: When you check your Home screen in your Google Music app, you will see different stations suggested, based on (not only) your location. At the gym, the airport, your office or another country? Google will suggest and play different music.

Google has a novel approach to figure out your activities (and moods?). You don’t need to tell Google where you are and what you are up to. Google can basically take all the information it has collected from you to personalize your Google Assistant and music experience:

This basically includes:

  • Web & App Activity: Your search activity on apps and in browsers to make searches faster and get customized experiences in Search, Maps, Now, and other Google products.
  • Location History: A private map of where you go with your signed-in devices in order to provide improved map searches, commute routes, and more.
  • Device Information: Your contacts, calendars, apps, and other device data to improve your experience across Google.
  • Voice and Audio activity: Which helps to recognize your voice and improve speech recognition by storing your voice and audio inputs to your account (for example, when you say “Ok Google” to do a voice search).
  • YouTube Search History: Your YouTube searches to make your future searches faster and improve your recommendations.
  • YouTube Watch History: To make it easier to find your recently watched videos on YouTube and improve your recommendations.

Note: Web & App Activity, Device Information and Voice and Audio Activity are required to operate your Google Home.

Controlling your Library and Playlists

You can control what goes into your music library by saying:

  • Hey Google, add this song to my library

And you can control what you’d like to hear from there:

  • Hey Google, play <song/album/artist> from my library 

To listen to your own playlists, you can say:

  • Hey Google, play my playlist <playlist>
  • Hey Google, listen to my <playlist> playlist
  • Hey Google, shuffle my <playlist> playlist

Listening to Radio Stations

Listening to radio is as straightforward as saying:

  • Hey Google, play <radiostation> (radio)

Note: if you want to listen to a different service, add e.g. “… on TuneIn” to your command.

Getting Music Information

Google has a bit of information when asked about what’s playing:

  • Hey Google, who sings this?
  • Hey Google, what song/tune/title is this?
  • Hey Google, when was this released?
  • Hey Google, what’s <artist> newest album?

Manage and Listen To Podcasts

For podcasts you have following additional commands:

  • Hey Google, play the <podcast> podcast
  • Hey Google, play the first episode of <podcast> 
  • Hey Google, play the <number> episode of <podcast>
  • Hey Google, play the newest/latest episode of <podcast> 
  • Hey Google, previous/next episode
  • Hey Google, what podcast is this?

Controlling Music Playback on another Speaker

To play on another Google Home / Chromecast device, just say:

  • Hey Google, play <song/album/artist/genre> on <device>
  • Hey Google, stop (playing on <device>)

To play your music throughout your home on multiple devices, you need to create groups. Tap on the three dots of your device in the Google Home app and group it with some other device(s). You can create a group and name it “Everywhere” to play on all your devices.

  • Hey Google, play <song/album/artist/genre> in <group>
  • Hey Google, next (<group>)
  • Hey Google, stop (<group>)
  • Hey Google, play <song/album/artist/genre> “everywhere”

Setting a Sleep Timer and Music Alarm

To set a sleep timer, you have following commands if the music is already playing:

  • Hey Google, set a sleep timer for 30 seconds/minutes/hour(s)
  • Hey Google, set a sleep timer at 9:30
  • Hey Google, stop (playing) in <duration>
  • Hey Google, stop (playing) at <time>

If you want to specify the time, when starting the music:

  • Hey Google, play music/artist/genre/playlist for <duration> seconds/minutes/hours
  • Hey Google, play music/artist/genre/playlist until <time>

To check how much time is left:

  • Hey Google, how much time is left on the sleep timer?

To cancel your sleep timer, say:

  • Hey Google, cancel the sleep timer

Note: If you have not set the music service you’d like to hear as default music service, or want to hear some different service, add e.g. “… on TuneIn” to your command.

You can control your music alarms with following commands:

  • Hey Google, wake me up to music at 6 AM (every weekday)

Note, this will let Google ask you, which music to play. You can also specify the music together with the time/weekday:

  • Hey Google, wake me up  at 8 AM to <song/album/artist/genre/playlist/radio> 
  • Hey Google, set an alarm for 6 AM,  that plays song/album/artist/playlist/radio, (every weekday)
  • Hey Google, cancel/disable the 7 am alarm
  • Hey Google , cancel/disable (all) alarm/s

Conclusion

Google Assistant surprises with some novel music features. Even more surprising is the generosity to make most of the features also available to Spotify users: We can Like/Dislike, Search by Lyrics and even play by describing the cover on Spotify.

Google appears weak in playlists for regional music and completely lacks playing similar music or music you have never heard. Note, with the latest update of this post, we’ve added “similar music”, thanks to Roshan.

If you ask for music information, you’ll be surprised how little our little fella knows. Well, he’s only two years old, soon. Note, well already: Hey Google, Happy Birthday! =)

There are features which only Google can offer, based on the vast amount of data it can collect from you, like your web search, youtube history or your location and more. This puts Google in the position to personalize your music suggestions to the fullest.

I hope you have enjoyed this extensive list of Google’s music commands and it helps you to get the most out of your music services.

You can find more Google Home posts here: Google Assistant.

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! You can subscribe below to this post to automatically receive update notifications via email.

For more information from Google, see Listen to music on Google Home.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Update 2018-08-02: Added some new commands and features from your feedback. In case you’re revisiting this page, updates are in green.

    Cheers,
    K.

  2. Why doesn’t Google work with offline media players for music saved on my phone. And why can’t I add music player apps; in addition to music services

  3. I have also noticed that you can quickly get Google to play a group or artist’s newest album. “Hey Google, Play ‘artist’s’ new album.” This seems to work every time. I’ve only had an issue with one not working so far.

    • Hey Joe!
      Thanks, that’s a nice one!
      Unfortunately it does not work with Spotify: “I looked for … latest album, but it either isn’t available or can’t be played right now”. The switch from “new”/”newest” to “latest” in Google’s response, indicates he understands it, though =)
      Thanks & Cheers,
      K.

  4. Took me forever to figure this out – but hopefully your readers will benefit from my investigation! I only tested this with Google Music Premium – but I assume this will work with Spotify Premium as well.

    The Google Music mobile app (with a paid subscription) allows you to both:
    1) Play a mixed station for a given artist – which creates a playlist of that artist’s music plus similar artists (like Pandora does).
    2) Play a station of only that artist – which creates a playlist of songs from just that artist.

    According to Google Home’s documentation, if I have a free Google Music subscription, I can only do #1. If I have a paid subscription, it seems I can only do #2. I wanted to do both #1 and #2.

    Here’s what I figured out:
    1) “Hey Google, play songs *like* ” or “Hey Google, Play music *like* ” – plays a radio mix of that artist (#1). You know it works if Google replies “Playing The Cranberries *radio mix*” vs. “Playing The Cranberries”.
    2) “Hey Google, play ” – plays songs from only that artist (#2).
    3) The “songs” grammar might be better than “music”, because of this totally incomprehensive test I did:
    3a) “Hey Google, play *music* like The Beatles” plays the song “Like the Beatles” from CJ Fly every time.
    3b) “Hey Google, play *songs* like The Beatles” plays the Beatles radio mix on Google Music.

    • Wow! Thank you so much for sharing!
      I can confirm it works with Spotify the same way (even the “music like” vs “songs like” behavior)
      This is a great feature which I am definitely going to use!
      Thanks & Cheers,
      K.

  5. Hey! The second longest post ever … =)
    I am sure I missed some commands, so please let me know and I’ll update our list!
    Stay tuned for the musical showdown of The Three!
    Cheers,
    K.

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