Hey Siri, Play Some Music: All the Music Commands (and more …)

Apple Siri

In this post, we will look into all the Siri music commands, which are not only limited to your HomePod but will (mostly) also work with your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, AirPods and Mac. We will cover basic volume and playback commands, as well as tips and tricks on how to play and manage your favorite music. We’ll control radio stations, podcasts, listen to ambient sounds, set sleep timers and last, but not least, we will create our own personal music commands.

A BIG THANK YOU goes to all of you who take the time and share their Siri Music experiences, questions and answers in our discussion section! We are continuously updating this post based on your feedback.

Estimated reading time: 19 minutes

Siri’s Music Services

We were used to “Apple Music only” on our Apple devices, but this has finally changed. Here’s an overview of all the music services supported on our Apple devices.

Apple Music is Apple’s native and therefore most extensive music service, with over 60 million songs. Here we can look into all music commands, which Siri understands.

Spotify has more than 50 million songs, and Siri supports the free, as well as the premium subscription. We just need to add “… on Spotify” to the music commands listed below. Spotify works with Siri on iOS and CarPlay, and with the new Spotify app also on Apple TV. On our HomePods, we can only play Spotify through AirPlay, which means we need to initiate the request from our iPhone and add “… on HomePod” to our voice commands. Yes, Spotify voice commands can become as strange as: “Hey Siri, play … on Spotify on HomePod”. However, since Spotify supports Siri shortcuts, we can customize our music commands and even initiate Spotify playback from the HomePod.

With iOS 13, Apple has included 100,000 radio stations from TuneIn, radio.com and iHeartRadio.

How to control Siri’s Volume

We have quite some options when it comes to controlling the music volume unless we are listening on Apple TV, where we have to use the remote anyway. The same goes for the Apple Watch, where we can use the crown to change the volume more efficiently.

Following commands will change the volume by 10% increments:

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

If you forget to indicate whether it should be softer or louder, Siri will check back and ask you.

Here’s another way to set the volume, this time to a specific percentage:

  • Hey Siri, (set/turn the volume to) 50 percent.
  • Hey Siri, 30 percent Note, that’s the snappy command

And, if you are brave, you can try:

  • Hey Siri, set the volume to MAX! =)

How to control Siri’s Playback

You can resume and stop playback by:

  • Hey Siri, play/resume (music)
  • Hey Siri, stop/pause

But you can also start your personal station by saying:

  • Hey Siri, play something

To navigate within an album or playlist you can say:

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

Note, “previous” will play a song from the beginning, in case you are listening to a Apple station.

To navigate within a song, you can try:

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

For shuffling and repeating we have the following commands:

  • Hey Siri, repeat (this album/playlist/track)
  • Hey Siri, (turn) repeat (on/off)
  • Hey Siri, (turn) shuffle (on/off)

Note, we cannot shuffle or repeat songs on radio stations!

How to navigate the Apple Music Database

There are so many ways to navigate the over 60 Million songs, that we need to structure this a bit …

How to play Music by Title/Album/Artist

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

  • Hey Siri, play (the song/track/title/tune) <title>
  • Hey Siri, play (the album/record) <album>
  • Hey Siri, play (music by) <artist>
  • Hey Siri, play (the song/track/title/tune) <title> by <artist> 
  • Hey Siri, play (the album/record) <album> by <artist> 

Please note, since Siri searches also for movies on Apple TV, make sure you add “music” or “song” to your voice command, in case she comes back with movie suggestions too frequently.

How to play Music by Genre

The list of genres and sub-genres is huge. Luckily, we found it well hidden in the iTunes affiliate documentation (scroll down to 34 Music). We are only including the main genres here, if you are looking for more specific sub-categories, check out the link above.

  • Hey Siri, play <genre> music

The main genres are:

  • Blues
  • Comedy
  • Children’s Music
  • Classic
  • Country
  • Electronic
  • Holiday
  • Opera
  • Singer/Songwriter
  • Jazz
  • Latin
  • New Age
  • Pop
  • R&B/Soul
  • Soundtrack
  • Dance
  • Hip-Hop
  • World
  • Alternative
  • Rock
  • Christian/Gospel
  • Vocal
  • Reggae
  • Easy Listening

How to play Music by Activity and Mood

Apple Music has a couple of not so obvious activities and moods, which you can use to specify what to play:

  • Hey Siri play (some) music for <activity>
  • Hey Siri play <mood> music

Here is a list of some moods we have tested, we’ve added the station they will trigger:

  • Peaceful / Meditation / Meditate / Bedtime / Sleeping -> station Meditation
  • Happy / Cheerful / Whimsical -> station Happy Music
  • Wild / Party / Fun -> station Partying
  • Stimulating / Exciting / Motivate(d) / Waking Up / Upbeat -> station Motivated Music
  • Angry -> station Angry music
  • Calm / Sad / Blue / Somber -> station sad music
  • Intimate / Erotic / Baby Making -> station Getting it on
  • Mellow / Chill / Soothing -> station chill music
  • Love / Passion / Tender / Romance / Romantic -> station Romantic and Love Music

Here we go with some activities, which we’ve tested (musically =):

  • Seperate / Split(ing) / Break(ing) Up -> station Breaking Up
  • Exercise / Cardio / Work(ing) Out -> station Working Out
  • Dinner Party / Cooking / Entertaining -> station Entertaining
  • Dance / Dancing -> station Dance
  • Focus(ing) / Study(ing) / Concentrate / Concentration -> station Focusing
  • Family Time / Safe for Kids -> station Family Time
  • Family / Kids -> station Disney

How to combine Moods, Activities and Genres in Music Commands

Now comes the interesting part: We can combine moods, genres, and activities.

  • Angry Workout -> station angry music for working out
  • Romantic Dinner Party -> station romantic and love music for entertaining
  • Angry Music to Focus -> station angry music for focusing
  • Break-Up Funk -> station funk for breaking up
  • Sad Blues -> station sad blues
  • Angry Rock -> station angry rock

In case there is no dedicated station which fits your request, Siri will fall back to a station which fits to one of your keywords.

How to play New Music

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

  • Hey Siri, play the latest song(s) by <artist>
  • Hey Siri, play the newest music by <artist>

Interested in what is trending someplace, sometime, some genre?

  • Hey Siri, play the top10/best songs from the 80s
  • Hey Siri, play the top/best song from April 1, 2019
  • Hey Siri, play the top10/best <genre> songs
  • Hey Siri, play the best songs from <country>

Note, if you’re outside of the US, Siri might come back with: “Sorry, but I don’t know the historical musical charts for your country”. Bummer. In this case, you can fall back to the playlists:

  • Hey Siri, play the 80s
  • Hey Siri, play I miss the 80s

How to play something you rarely hear

In case you feel like you’re hearing always the same songs:

  • Hey Siri, play something new
  • Hey Siri, play something I have not heard

How to play Similar Music

There’s this one catchy song and you want to hear more like that?

Since Genius is not available everywhere, there’s another great way to listen to similar music:

  • Hey Siri, make/create a radio station based on this song

Apart of that, you could try:

  • Hey Siri, play something else by <artist>
  • Hey Siri, play some old songs by <artist>
  • Hey Siri, play the live version of this song

How to play Favorites and like/dislike Songs

We want to hear songs we like, so we need to let Siri know what we like and what we don’t like:

  • Hey Siri, I like/love/don’t like/dislike this (song)
  • Hey Siri, I don’t like <genre>
  • Hey Siri, don’t/never play this song again (Note, this one’s a bit buggy)

And of course your personal station will play the music that you like:

  • Hey Siri, play music I like

How to Play Songs by Lyrics

If we usually forget song titles, but remember some lyrics, we can find the song with a lyrics snippet:

  • Hey Siri, play the song that goes <lyrics snippet> (Note, this feature works only in US)
  • Hey Siri, what’s the song that goes <lyrics snippet>
Who directed “Welcome Home”, the promotional music video for the Apple HomePod? Spike Jonze, director of “Her” and “Being John Malkovich”! Yes, and “Jackass” …

How to control your Music Library and Playlists

You can control what goes into your library by saying:

  • Hey Siri, add this (album/song) to my library

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

  • Hey Siri, play my music by <artist>
  • Hey Siri, play some <genre/artist> from my library

There’s a massive library of (curated) playlists in Apple Music. We can access them this way:

  • Hey Siri, play (a/the) playlist (from/by) <artist> (Note, just making sure that you’re still aware of the snappy commands, e.g.: “Hey Siri, play playlist Elvis”)

Siri cannot create playlists, for this we still need the app, but she can, of course, fill and play your playlists:

  • Hey Siri, play/shuffle my <playlist> (playlist)
  • Hey Siri, add this song to my <playlist> playlist (Note, does not work on a Mac)

And, just in case you feel in the mood to tell her what should come next:

  • Hey Siri, after this song, play <title>/ some <artist> 

How to listen to Radio Stations

Listening to Apple Music radio stations is as easy as saying:

  • Hey Siri, play <radiostation> (radio)

Since iOS 13 Apple has included “Live Radio” with 100,000 radio stations from TuneIn, radio.com and iHeartRadio. This includes many live, local and global radio stations. All we need to say:

  • Hey Siri, play the radio station <radiostation>

Note, you cannot navigate backward in radio. “Previous” will play a song from the beginning.

How to get Music Information

Siri is a knowledgeable music lover. You can ask her many questions related to music:

  • Hey Siri, who sings this?
  • Hey Siri, what song/tune/title is this?
  • Hey Siri, when was this released?
  • Hey Siri, tell me more about this artist (Note, this doesn’t work on Apple TV)
  • Hey Siri, what was the last song called/named? (Note, doesn’t work on a Mac and Apple Watch)
  • Hey Siri, what’s the name of the next song? (Note, doesn’t work on a Mac)
  • Hey Siri, what year is this song from?
  • Hey Siri, what’s <artist> newest album?
  • Hey Siri, who plays the <instrument> on this (song)? (Note, this doesn’t work on Apple TV)
  • Hey Siri, how many songs are on this album?
  • Hey Siri, what’s the station? (Note, doesn’t work on a Mac)
  • Hey Siri, what was the top song in <year>?
  • Hey Siri, what’s the song that goes <lyrics snippet>

Watching a movie and like the song?

  • Hey Siri, listen to this song
  • Hey Siri, Shazam this

After that, just say:

  • Hey Siri, play this song

and you will find the song in your music app. Make sure to like it or add it to your library/playlist!

How to play Ambient Sounds

Up to now, we could only play ambient or nature sounds from Apple Music, but since iOS 13.2.1, our HomePods natively support following ambient sounds:

  • Fireplace sounds
  • White Noise
  • Stream sounds
  • Night sounds
  • Rain sounds
  • Ocean Waves sounds
  • Forest sounds

To play any ambient sound, we just need to say:

  • Hey Siri, play ambient sounds

To play a specific sound, we need to say

  • Hey Siri, play the sound of <ambient sound>
  • Hey Siri, play <ambient sound> from ambient sounds

How to set a Sleep Timer

To make sure, our good night playlist or our ambient sound, fades out on our HomePod after a period of time (when we are asleep), we can say:

  • Hey Siri, set a sleep timer

She’ll come back with: “For how long?” and we can specify the time:

  • For x hours (y minutes (and z seconds))

Siri will confirm: “Ok, I’ll stop playing in <time>”.
We can also set a sleep timer with just one request:

  • Hey Siri, set a sleep timer for 30 minutes
  • Hey Siri, set a 30 minute sleep timer

How to Manage and Listen To Podcasts

For podcasts you have following additional commands:

  • Hey Siri, play the <podcast> podcast
  • Hey Siri, subscribe to this podcast (Note, doesn’t work on a Mac)
  • Hey Siri, play it one and a half times / twice as fast / half speed / normal speed (Note, this doesn’t work on Apple TV and Mac)
  • Hey Siri, play the first episode of <podcasts> (Note, doesn’t work on a Mac)
  • Hey Siri, play the newest episode of <podcast> (Note, doesn’t work on a Mac)
  • Hey Siri, play my newest podcasts
  • Hey Siri, what podcast is this?
  • Hey Siri, subscribe to <podcast> (Note, doesn’t work on a Mac)

How to Control Music Playback on another Speaker

If we just came home and want to continue listening to our music, podcast or even our phone call on our HomePod, we just need to hold our iPhone or iPad next to the HomePod (iOS 13.2.1) and whatever we’re listening to continues on HomePod. The same goes for leaving home and transferring audio playback from the HomePod to our iPhone, we just need to hold it next to HomePod, and there we go.

Through AirPlay all our HomePods, AppleTVs and compatible AirPlay 3rd party speakers can communicate with each other:

  • Hey Siri, play <music> in <room> / on <device name>
  • Hey Siri, pause/resume in <room> / on <device name>
  • Hey Siri, transfer (the music) to <room> / <device name>
  • Hey Siri, play <music> everywhere

How to Create Your Own Music Commands

We have looked into the predefined music commands, but what about creating our own? Since iOS 13.3 we have a couple of options.

Here’s a quick overview of the Shortcuts and the Home app, explained by Siri (1 minute snippet from our Siri’s HomeKit Scenes and Shortcuts: Immersive Storytelling How-To cartoon). You can pause the clip at around 2:34, we’ll get later to the examples:

Create Personal Music Commands with HomeKit

We can now control our HomePods and AppleTVs through HomeKit and choose what to play from Apple Music or our library. Watch Siri creating a HomeKit scene with audio – “Hey Siri, at the beach” (1 minute snippet from our Siri’s HomeKit Scenes and Shortcuts: Immersive Storytelling How-To cartoon). You can pause the clip at around 4:20, we’ll get later to the other examples:

Please note, the HomeKit option is available in the Home app, as well as in the Shortcuts app!

Create Personal Music Commands with ShortCuts

Or, we can create Shortcuts and use the “Play Music” action (rather than the “Control Home” action, which utilizes HomeKit) to choose what to play from Apple Music or our library.

Watch Siri creating a Shortcut with ambient sounds – “Hey Siri, deep blue sea” (2 minute snippet from our Siri’s HomeKit Scenes and Shortcuts: Immersive Storytelling How-To cartoon):

If you are completely new to Siri Shortcuts and HomeKit, you might enjoy this overview: Minority Report: A Siri, HomeKit, Home App and Shortcuts Overview. This post links to many of our Shortcut examples in this chapter: How to create a Shortcut).

In this music post we will focus on Shortcuts, as they will also play music from our iPhones/iPads/AirPods, as well as on a HomePod, when we ask Siri from there. And, Shortcuts are the only way to personalize our Spotify commands.

What are Siri Shortcuts?

Let’s have Siri herself explain Siri Shortcuts (from our AI-News Special – 4 minute cartoon):

To summarize: Shortcuts are an automagical feature which silently learns from you in the background and suggests useful shortcuts. Applications (like Spotify!) can donate Shortcuts to Siri, so you can jump directly to an app and even activate some actions, all with a voice command which you can define yourself. And last but not least, there is Apple’s Shortcuts app and this is what we will use.

Apple’s Shortcuts App

screenshot of explore apple music shortcuts
There are many Apple Music related Shortcuts in the gallery.

No need to download the Shortcuts app, since iOS 13 it’s preinstalled on our iPhones and iPads. You will see some colored boxes, your shortcuts, in your Shortcuts “library”. When you tap on the bottom right “gallery”, you can browse some 800 shortcuts and download them to your library. Since we are music fans, check out the “Shortcuts for Apple Music”, you might find some interesting shortcuts there.

Tapping one of the colored boxes in your library executes the shortcut. Tapping the 3 little dots opens the configuration page. Scrolling through the list of options when creating an action, gives us now a much tidier view than in iOS 12: We find the latest Siri Suggestions and categories like Apps, Favorites, Scripting, Media, Location, Documents, Sharing and Web.

Let’s create a super easy, snappy Shortcut to listen to our favorite music (and set the right light scene).

Our Personal Music Command: “Hey Siri, Relax!” (for Apple Music and Spotify)

When we say “Hey Siri, relax!”, Siri will currently come back with some random funny response, but she will not do anything useful. We will now override this behavior with our very own shortcut.

Screenshot of Shortcut
“Hey Siri, relax” with Apple Music
  1. For Apple Music, open your Music app and start your favorite relax playlist  (we are using here an Apple-curated, regularly updated playlist, like “Acoustic Chill” for instance).
    For Spotify, start your playlist with a voice command, e.g.: “Hey Siri, play Indie Acoustic Chill on Spotify”
  2. Now open your Shortcuts app and click the “+” (top right) to create a new Shortcut
  3. Tap on “Add Action” and Siri will come up with her Shortcut suggestions
  4. At the top of the list, you will find Apple’s “Play Music” suggestions and your Apple Music playlist.
    For Spotify scroll down a bit to find your, e.g. “Play Indie Acoustic Chill” next to a Spotify icon.
    (You see, we launched our playlist once and now it appears as Siri Suggestion in our Shortcuts app =) Just tap on it!
  5. We have added our first action. Now, the playlist will always start from the beginning. For Apple Music, we can make sure to always hear something new, by tapping on “show more” in the “Play Acoustic Chill” action, and define shuffle and whether the songs should repeat.
  6. Since we are into smart home as well, let’s add a HomeKit scene. If you don’t care about smart home, you can just skip this part and continue at pt. 9
  7. Type “Home” into the search bar, and you will find the “Control Home” action. Tap on it.
  8. Tap on Scenes and Accessories to define the HomeKit scene and pick yours from the list (e.g. living room relax) 
  9. Almost done! Tap on “Next” (top right) or on the 3 little dots (also top right)
  10. Let’s give this shortcut a name, e.g. ‘Relax’
  11. Tap “Done” in the upper right corner! Close the app and we are ready!
Screenshot of Shortcut
“Hey Siri, relax” with Spotify

Now, we just need to say “Hey Siri, relax!” and instead of some funny response, she will play our favorite relax playlist (and set the proper light scene). How cool is that?

Please note, these Shortcuts will run on your HomePod, AppleWatch, etc. but they will be executed on the iOS device.

Another note, in case you are wondering what the Energize, Concentrate, Read, Relax, etc. light scenes are: these are the default Philips Hue light recipes. We could have created the shortcuts the same way, using the Philips Hue app Siri Shortcuts. It’s just that HomeKit is a more generic way, which can also integrate lights from other manufacturers, e.g. Nanoleaf.

Siri Shortcut Inspirations

There are many Shortcut examples throughout our Siri posts:


Siri Shortcuts are incredibly flexible and the Shortcuts app has received a massive update with iOS 13. Hopefully, we will see more apps, donating Siri some shortcuts, just like Spotify recently. Opening up to Spotify and many radio services is a pleasant surprise from a company like Apple.

New features like playing ambient sounds, sleep timer support, multi-voice recognition for music personalization, and controlling playback on other speakers are finally available. The music “handoff” feature from iOS to a HomePod and vice versa is unique and an excellent user experience. And, many – unfortunately not all – Siri inconsistencies between different Apple devices have been fixed since iOS 12.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this extensive list of Siri music commands. Maybe it helps you too, to fall in love with music (again), if you have not already!

If you have any questions or found some new music commands, please share them with us in the comment section below! We’ll keep this post updated with your feedback!

Happy Music with Siri!

P.S. For more Siri posts, please see Apple Siri.

Knock-knock … Enjoy our Siri Joke Animations and Alexa Song Remixes (featuring Siri) on YouTube!

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11 thoughts on “Hey Siri, Play Some Music: All the Music Commands (and more …)”

  1. I think the latest update has messed with Siri, now she will announce playing music on your radio of choice, then a moment later say you will have to open the app

  2. So I created my own “Favorites” playlist in my library on my device. These are all songs I own. I say to siri, “Siri, Play my playlist Favorites from my library, and I always get some favorites playlist from the Apple algorithm. I have to manually press on my playlist to get it to play. Siri sucks.

    • Yes, it seems the name “Favorites” is reserved for the “Favorites Mix” playlist from Apple Music. You could try any other name, and Siri might come back with the new service selection list, there you need to confirm once to play this playlist from Apple Music. From then on, the “play my playlist …” command should work. Agree, this implementation is not really smart. =)

  3. Added a link to the HomeKit, Home App and Shortcuts Overview – Minority Report: A Siri, HomeKit, Home App and Shortcuts Overview

  4. Big Update:
    – Added “Siri’s Music Services” (Apple Music, Spotify, TuneIn, etc)
    – Added “How to Play Songs by Lyrics”
    – Added “How to play Ambient Sounds”
    – Added “How to set a Sleep Timer”
    – Added “How to Control Music Playback on another Speaker”
    – Updated: How to Create Your Own Music Commands with Siri Shortcuts
    (including Spotify for HomePod)
    updated post date!

  5. I’m trying to find a comprehensive list of genres, so I told it to play “light opera”, and it did. Many of my guesses get turned into a particular song with a name similar to a genre guess. (Or telling it to play “my favorites”)

    I have some playlists that my HomePod can’t find, and others that it can find, even though none have songs that have the cloud icon error.

    I only got Apple Music after I got my HomePod, and I haven’t figured out how to get my iMac’s iTunes to pick music. I see that my iPad and iPhone have a heart “for you” icon in their music apps.

    • Thanks Matthias! I have now updated the features which do not work for Apple TV, Apple Watch and Mac. Hope Apple will fix this soon. Stay tuned: Voice Commands for Amazon, Google and Spotify coming soon!

  6. I guess, I might have missed some …
    Appreciate, if you could let me know and I will extend the list!
    Thanks & Cheers!


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