Though perhaps not as well-known a streaming platform as something like Spotify or Apple Music, Google Play Music has grown a small, dedicated group of users. What the app lacks in social and sharing features seen in Spotify, it more than makes up elsewhere. For the base $9.99 price, you get access to Google’s entire streaming library of music, plus the inclusion of YouTube Red, ad-free YouTube playback on desktop and mobile, and the ability to save YouTube videos to your phone for offline watching. Plus, every Google user—free or paid—gains access to a 50,000-song locker, allowing you to store your entire music library, whether it’s from iTunes or anywhere else, in the cloud for online access.
While Google’s Music service works best with Google-branded products like Chromecast Audio and Google Home, owners of the Amazon Echo aren’t entirely out of luck. While Google and Amazon are nothing if not rivals to each other—Amazon won’t sell Google’s Chromecast and Home-branded products online, Google won’t allow Amazon’s App Store on the Play Store as a download—that doesn’t mean their devices can’t work together. It takes a bit of elbow grease, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, your Google Play Music library and your Amazon Echo can live together in peace and harmony. Here’s the best ways to get your Google and Amazon products working together.
Using Bluetooth to Play Music from Your Phone or Computer
If you’re a Google Play Music subscriber, you’re probably not looking to switch away from your current music subscription setup. You’ve built a full library of your songs, complete with playlists, curated your radio stations with thumbs-up and thumbs-down ratings, and gotten used to both the mobile app and the web app on desktop. Needless to say, Google Play Music is where you’re staying, and you have no intentions of moving services anytime soon. No worries, we understand. This doesn’t mean you can’t play your music from your phone or computer to your Amazon Echo. In fact, using the Echo’s built-in Bluetooth function, you can listen to your curated library of music all while enjoying the voice-controls provided with the Echo through Alexa—or, at least, most of them. Let’s take a look at using your Echo’s Bluetooth with Google Play Music on your smartphone.
On your iOS or Android device, head into the settings of your phone. For iOS, the Settings menu is found on your homescreen; for Android, you can either access your Settings menu through the app drawer on your device or by accessing the shortcut kept on the top of your notification tray. Inside your settings, you’ll want to look for the Bluetooth menu. On iOs, it’s right at the top of your settings menu, in the connections area of your device. On Android, it’s also located near the top, in the “Wireless and Networks” section. The exact appearance of your settings menu may differ on the version of Android on your phone, as well as the skin your manufacturer applies to the software, but overall, it should be located near the top of your display.
Inside of the Bluetooth on your phone, ensure your Bluetooth is enabled on your device. Once active, you should automatically see your Echo available for pairing. Typically the name will depend on the variety of Echo you have (a traditional Echo, or the Dot or Tap). As with any Bluetooth device, tap on the selection to pair the devices together. Alexa will make an audio cue to alert you that your device has been paired, and the Bluetooth icon on your phone will change to indicate you’ve been connected to a new device. After this, you can use your phone to play music right from your mobile device to the Echo, though you won’t be able to activate Alexa to play specific songs. You can, however, use your voice for basic playback commands, including pause, next, previous, and play.
And of course, any Bluetooth-enabled device has support for the Echo as well, so if you’d rather connect your PC or Mac to your Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Tap to play media, all you have to do is pair your device through Bluetooth on either Windows 10 or MacOS. Once you’ve paired your computer with your Echo, simply open Google Play Music inside your browser and begin media playback. Because Play Music is built into your browser, you won’t be able to use Alexa’s voice commands to control your media playback. For this reason, we suggest downloading the third-party Google Play Music Desktop Player, which can enable media controls in settings. You can download that platform here, and use the Desktop Settings menu to enable the Media Service on your Windows 10 or MacOS computer.
Transferring Your Library to Amazon Music Unlimited
If you’re planning on playing the majority of your music from your Amazon Echo or your other Alexa-enabled devices, you might want to consider moving your music from Google Play Music to Amazon’s own library. Amazon, like Google before them, offer a $9.99 per month streaming service that offers most of the music you could hope for from a streaming application. Amazon Music also has mobile applications available for both iOS and Android, so users of either platform can listen and download their music on the go. If all of your is streaming on Google Play Music, and you aren’t a dedicated YouTube user who can’t live without ad-free YouTube, both platforms are pretty similar to each other. In fact, for Amazon Prime users, Amazon Music Unlimited is only $7.99 per month instead of $9.99, helping you save some cash in the process.
If you’re interested in switching from Google Play Music to Amazon Music Unlimited, it can be pretty frustrating to export your library and playlists you’ve saved in the cloud. There’s no way to handle that data automatically, and unfortunately, the tricks and services recommended online simply don’t work well for what we’re trying to do here. Instead, you’ll have to manually copy your library from Google Play Music to Amazon Music Unlimited by scrolling through your library on Play Music and adding albums and artists to Amazon’s service. Ultimately, the best suggestion for music streamers is to simply use the Bluetooth built into your Echo, but if you need the ability to tell Alexa to play a specific song, you’re going to have to move over to Amazon Music Unlimited—or, alternatively, purchase a Google Home as a smart speaker instead.
Finally, we should note that all Prime subscribers gain access to Amazon Prime Music. Unlike Music Unlimited, Prime Music gives you access to about 2 million songs, a far lower number than the 30 to 40 million songs offered by Google Play Music, Spotify, and even Amazon Music Unlimited. That said, as an Echo owner, you can probably find a good middle ground between what’s offered on Prime Music and your collection on Google Play Music through Bluetooth. It’s not a perfect strategy, but it’ll work for most users asking Alexa to play specific pop songs.
If you use Google Play Music for your cloud-based local music, and not for the streaming service, we have better news for you. Amazon offers a cloud storage locker for music, with a song cap five times as large as what we’ve seen from Google. Amazon gives you room for 250,000 songs, likely more than most of us have heard in our lifetime, allowing you to upload your entire local music collection from your Mac or Windows PC.
Update – January 11th, 2018: Amazon announced at the end of 2017 that they would be discontinuing their Amazon Cloud Locker service. New users are being accepted until January 15th, 2018. After that, new users won’t be able to upload their music. Furthermore, current users won’t have access to their library following January 2019, which gives a year for current users to migrate off of the service or to switch to Amazon’s streaming music plan, described above. In the coming weeks, we’ll update the guide below with new information on transferring your Google Play Music library and, more specifically, your library of MP3s to Amazon Echo devices.
Here’s the catch: although Amazon offers more space, you’ll have to pay for the privilege. For $24.99 a year, you gain access to Amazon’s own Cloud Player service, which allows you to store 250,000 songs on Amazon’s servers. That’s in comparison to Google’s aforementioned 50,000 songs for free to all Google accounts and Apple’s iTunes Match service, which also runs you $24.99 a year, but only allows you to upload and match 25,000 songs, a mere ten percent of Amazon’s offerings. There is a downside to this, however. Google’s upload and matching service gives users 320kbps MP3s, and Apple’s iTunes Match gives users 256kbps AAC files. Amazon, meanwhile, only offers users 256kbps MP3s, a much more lossy file than both of their competitor’s offerings. If sound quality is of the utmost importance to you, Amazon’s cloud service might be lacking. Most users, especially playing through the Echo’s speaker, won’t notice a difference at all.
So, if you’re willing to drop the $25 a year—which averages out to about $2 a month—for Amazon’s cloud service, transferring your music from Google Play Music to Amazon Music is surprisingly simple, even if you’ve long since deleted the local files from your hard drive. Google allows you to download your purchased and stored music direct from their own cloud storage, making it easy to regain all the music you’ve uploaded to Google’s servers over the past few years of Play Music usage. Here’s how to do it.
Head over to Google’s web player by following this link. On the left side of the display, tap the triple-lined menu button to open Google Play Music’s menu. Tap on settings and open the settings for Google Play Music. Here’s where you’ll find all your personal details and preferences for the service, including how many songs you’ve uploaded to your account. Scroll down through the preferences until you reach “Download Library” near the end of the page. This allows you to download every song you’ve uploaded or purchased from Google Play Music in one file. You’ll have to select a download folder for the music to be placed. As a recommendation, don’t just use your Downloads folder—create a dedicated folder for your content and make sure it’s saved to that specific folder. Depending on how many songs you uploaded to the service, it might take a while for the download to complete. Songs download relatively fast, but a collection of five or six thousand songs will take at least a few hours to finish.
Once your collection has finished downloading, you’ll have to download the Amazon Music app to re-upload your music to Amazon’s own service. Amazon allows you to upload 250 songs for free, so if you want to test the service out without dropping $25, you can do that using this guide too. To upload more than 250 songs, you’ll have to drop real cash on Amazon. The service is $25 no matter whether you’re a Prime member or not, so keep that in mind.
Start by heading over to Amazon and logging into your account. Once you’re logged in, you’ll need to access Amazon Music. Either browse over your name on the right side of the Amazon homepage and, using the drop down menu. find “Your Music Library” from the suggestions. Alternately, you can follow this link to lead you to Amazon Music. Once there, browse through the side bar on the left side of the webpage and find “Upload your music to the cloud” and select it. It’s located near the bottom of the webpage. This will load a popup inviting you to install the Amazon Music app for either PC or Mac. As of writing, Amazon doesn’t currently have a web-only option for uploading music, so any Chrome OS users with local music collections will have to borrow a friend’s computer to get their library up to the cloud.
After the app’s been downloaded to your computer, open the installer and follow the prompts through installing Amazon Music on your Mac or Windows PC. After the application has opened, you’ll want to resign into your Amazon account with Amazon Music. After the application has opened, tap on “My Music” at the top of the webpage to head into your (currently empty) library. Along the right side of the Amazon Music app inside your library, you’ll see a panel for “Playlists” and “Actions.” Underneath the “Actions” option is the ability to upload your library to Amazon, identified by a box that simply reads “Upload, Drag and Drop Here.” Below this is also a second option for uploading your music, labeled “Upload, Select Music.” You can use this option to navigate Amazon to the folder your Google Play Music library was saved inside, making it easy to upload your music library in one quick option.
Once you’ve selected “Upload, Select Music,” you’ll receive a prompt asking if you want to upload specific files or an entire folder. Point Amazon Music at that single folder is your best bet, though again, remember that only 250 songs will be uploaded until you make the move to Amazon Music Unlimited. You can view your upload progress by tapping “View” on the right side panel, with each separate upload featuring its own upload bar. A checkmark will be displayed on the right side of each song as they finish uploading, and you’ll be able to listen to the songs from your cloud once they’re in your library. Depending on the size of your library and the speed of your internet, it might take a while for your entire collection of music to finish uploading, so be patient.
When every song in your upload queue finishes, you’ll receive a notice alerting you that the upload is complete. Your music, along with all the associated metadata and any album artwork, will appear in your library, for playback on your PC or Mac, iPhone or Android device, and most importantly, your Echo. Using Alexa, you can give commands like “Play [song title]” or “Shuffle my library,” without having to hook up your phone through your device and use a menu system. This makes it super easy to stream your content right to your Echo without relying on outside services or device. It’s basically the way Alexa and the Echo speaker was built to be used, and it’s the best way to transfer your Google Play Music library right into Amazon’s own service—provided, of course, you’re willing to pay the $25 a year for Amazon’s full cloud access.
At the end of the day, there’s no real easy way to switch from Google Play Music to Amazon, especially if you’re using Play Music’s streaming service. The two entities just don’t work well together, and to a certain extent, the rivalry between Google and Amazon has heated up to the point where the two companies’ products simply don’t work well together. If you’re simply using Google’s cloud locker service and you have no qualms about paying $25 a month for Amazon’s own service, by all means, switching to Amazon is a pretty easy process that will allow your Alexa to play specific songs for every occasion. Most people, however, will be better off simply sticking to the Bluetooth streaming option, allowing them to use their Google Play Music library on your Echo without any additional work. You won’t be able to ask Alexa for any specific songs, but Prime members will be able to balance Google Play Music and Amazon Prime Music together to create the best of both worlds.