If you’re like us, you love your Amazon Echo smart speaker. One of the hottest, and perhaps most unexpected, tech categories to become prevalent throughout the last decade, smart speakers have shown incredibly growth over the last several years. Not only are they super useful, but they are currently on track to become one of the most successful tech categories to come around since the meteoric rise of the smartphone. All sorts of companies, from Amazon to Google, Apple to Sonos, and plenty of other third-party operators have worked hard to build a competitive scene for smart speakers but, for many, the Echo line of devices remains the smart speaker choice for anyone looking to listen to music, play some quick voice-based games, or check the news.
Whether you have a traditional Amazon Echo, one of the three generations of Echo Dots, or the adorable alarm clock-shaped Echo Spot, your Alexa devices make for great bedside alarms to get you up and moving in the morning. Alexa has long been able to create basic alarms to start your day, but late in 2017 your Echo devices learned a brand-new skill: the ability to wake you up with music to start your day. From your favorite new single to one of your carefully curated Spotify playlists, your Echo has never been quite as good at waking you up as it is today. Let’s take a look at how to set up a music alarm with your Amazon Echo devices to help get your day started right.
Understanding Alarms on Alexa
Just like how you must learn to walk before you run, it’s important to know how basic alarms work on Alexa before you make the move to music alarms. There are a few different ways to set alarms on your Echo devices, and thankfully, it’s easy to do with or without your smartphone or tablet. By far, the simplest way to set an alarm is to just ask Alexa to do it for you. Asking Alexa to wake you up at 7am sets an alarm with your default alarm sound, something that can be easily changed in the settings of your Alexa app (we’ll get to that in a moment). It’s not just asking Alexa to set an alarm that’s easy—you can also ask Alexa to set up a recurring alarm on your devices just by asking Alexa to set an alarm for every weekday, or making an exemption from alarms on the weekend.
These alarms don’t have to be set using your voice, however. Within the Alexa app on your smartphone select Reminders and Alarms from the left-side menu within the app. Any alarms you’ve previously made will appear here, and you can add an alarm without using your voice here as well. Selecting “Add Alarm” let’s you set the time, date, repeat settings, and of course, the sound you decide to wake up to. From basic alarm chimes to special celebrity alarm voices, there are plenty of options to help you wake up in the morning, even if you decide not to use a song or playlist to wake up in the morning.
But if you use those alarms, you’ll likely notice that it can get a little bland, listening to the same alarm tone every time you wake up. Instead, you’ve decided to use a music alarm, a great choice since Amazon makes it so easy. Setting music alarms on Echo can only be done through voice commands though, since you can’t select the song from within the settings of your Alexa app. You need to be able to tell Alexa what song, artist, or playlist you want to wake up to in the morning, but in order to do that, you’ll need to make sure you have your music service properly set up via the Alexa app.
What Music Services Are Supported Through Alexa?
A majority of music lovers have left their local libraries behind in exchange for paying a monthly subscription to listen to music streaming. By unlocking a whole library for the price of one CD per month, you’re able to listen to old favorites, brand-new releases as soon as they drop, and check out all sorts of unlimited-use stations, playlists, and more. Not everyone has made the move to these streaming services but, unfortunately, it’s going to be the primary way to set a music alarm on your Alexa device. In this quick guide, we’re going to take a look at how to use the platform
Using Amazon Music
As you might imagine, the easiest way to use your Echo to set a music alarm is to use Amazon Music Unlimited (or Amazon Prime Music) for your alarms. Most Amazon Echo owners probably have some sort of Prime membership in place to help them get the most from their smart speakers, and if you fit that bill, we have some great news for you. Whether or not you pay for a streaming service, you’ll be able to set a music alarm on your device. Amazon offers a collection of 2 million songs on their Prime service, a far cry from the usual 40 million that you can grab on other streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, and Amazon’s own Music Unlimited Service, but good enough for our purposes.
By default, Amazon’s own music service is the default streaming choice, especially if you’re a Prime member. This means you likely won’t have to do anything to actually setup Amazon Music on your Echo device—it should be running already. Some basic commands to try using to wake up:
- Alexa, wake me up to Carly Rae Jepsen at 7am.
- Alexa, wake me up at 7am with my “wake up” playlist.
- Alexa, wake me up to “Thank U Next” by Ariana Grande every weekday at 7am.
Just by asking Alexa to set the alarm for you, commands like these should allow you to wake up to streaming music, either shuffled from an artist, specific songs, or playlists you’ve already created. If you dive into the alarms section of your Alexa app, you’ll notice that these alarms have been added to your list of set alarms, complete with the music choice you’ve decided on. However, when you click on the alarm you will not be able to change the music selection. This makes sense, since you can’t normally open the music options here.
Once your alarm is playing, you’ll find all your controls still work here, and you can freely skip songs, ask to snooze your alarm, stop playback, and more. It’s also important to note that Alexa will remember your alarm preferences, so if you want to wake up to Beyoncé every morning, you can absolutely do that. Cancelling your alarms also works with your voice, and you can snooze, stop, and shut down alarms just by verbalizing those commands. It makes waking up in the morning much easier than it otherwise could be.
Good news for those who pay for Spotify’s $9.99 premium plan: your Amazon Echo just became your go-to alarm clock for all the music stations, artists, albums, and singles that you love listening to. The app works basically the same as Amazon’s Music service, but instead of pulling media from Amazon, it pulls content from your Spotify account. Theoretically, you could even use Spotify to wake up to podcasts supported on the platform.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest selling points for Spotify is the free tier on both desktop and mobile, and you cannot access this level of account on the Echo. If you try to plug-in your free account information you’ll be alerted that your account doesn’t support the device, and that switching to Spotify is a no-go.
To add Spotify to your Echo, dive into the settings of your Alexa app on your smartphone and select Music under your Echo preferences. This is where you can link your supported services together by adding or disabling the ones you want. This doesn’t just work for Spotify, but any of the supported music services on Alexa that we’ll cover below. Once you’ve selected the right service that you want to use to link your account, you can sign into your Spotify account and select Spotify as your default music service. This means you won’t have to specify that you want Spotify to be used to play your alarms every morning; Alexa will default back to using your own Spotify account.
There really aren’t any free options for listening to music on the Echo. Thankfully, if you’re a student, you can get Spotify for a steep discount at just $4.99 per month, and every so often Spotify will offer non-paying members the option to pay $.99 for three months of the premium service. Returning members who used to be premium can often grab a deal to pay just $9.99 for three months as well.
Amazon added support for Apple Music at the tail end of 2018, making it easier than ever to listen to your favorite songs through Apple’s music service. This was, and is, a big deal for many obvious reasons, especially since Apple created a competitor to the Echo devices in HomePod. It doesn’t matter though, since Apple Music now can be selected directly through the Amazon Alexa settings on your smartphone, just as you can with Spotify as described above. If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, there’s absolutely no reason not to grab this.
From our tests, most other music options worked well for setting alarms as well. Amazon supports more music services than any other smart device out there today, with iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Deezer, Gimme, Pandora, Sirius XM, Tidal, and Vevo all supported on your Alexa device, in addition to Amazon, Apple, and Spotify. This helps to make your Alexa speaker one of the best ways to wake up in the morning, from the personal collections of Spotify and Apple Music to the free streaming library collected through Prime, to the internet radio stations of Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. Not all of these need specific logins either; some, like iHeartRadio, can work even without an account logged into the service, making it an easy way to get up in the morning.
Unfortunately, anyone looking to wake up to their local music will likely be disappointed to learn that it simply doesn’t work on their Alexa devices, thanks to the requirement to have streaming music platforms as opposed to anything playing back locally. Although you used to be able to host local music in Amazon’s cloud locker, they’ve since shuttered that service for all new customers, with only a month left for existing users to export their content from Amazon’s cloud locker. A serious bummer, if we do say so ourselves.
Thankfully, there are some streaming options to help. Prime users can still rely on the basic Amazon Prime Music plan to play the majority of popular songs from a limited collection while playing on an Alexa every morning to wake up. Whether you’re looking to find a specific song or artist, or you just need a genre to wake up to, there’s enough options on Prime Music to set an alarm each morning to wake up to. With support for free options like Pandora and iHeartRadio, your Alexa can become a pretty decent replacement for your clock radio you used to have by your bedside. And though Spotify’s free tier doesn’t work on your Alexa, both paid Spotify users and anyone with an Apple Music subscription can wake up to their own collections each morning as well, covering a pretty wide majority of music listeners both in the United States and worldwide.
What’s your favorite song to wake up to with Alexa in the morning? Let us know in the comments below!