How To Play Your Google Play Music Library with Amazon Echo
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.
Updated February 8th, 2018 to include new information on Amazon Music Storage.
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 seem like a pretty frustrating experience to be stuck moving your playlists, album collections, and liked music from one service to another. There’s really only one service that syncs with both Google and Amazon in order to sync your music automatically, and that’s STAMP. As a service, STAMP allows you to move your music between streaming platforms by using your phone or your desktop PC. As always, there’s a catch—in this case, you’ll need to pay $10 for either the desktop app or the mobile app in order to move your entire collection (STAMP lets you try out its service for free, but you’ll have to drop real cash to move more than a handful of songs). Reviews of STAMP have been mixed; most say it works, but you’ll want to stick with the mobile version over the desktop version of the app.
For those who aren’t willing to drop $10 on moving their music from one platform to another, there’s always the option to move your library over manually. Copying your library from Google Play Music to Amazon Music Unlimited takes time; you’ll have to scroll through your library on Play Music and slowly add the albums and artists to Amazon’s music. You can definitely make it happen, but it’s a slow way to move things over. Ultimately, the most painless method to use Google Play Music with your Echo is through Bluetooth streaming. If you’re a Prime member, you can still tell Alexa to play specific songs—it’ll just play the song from Prime Music instead of Google Play Music.
Of course, 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 – May 15th, 2018: Amazon announced at the end of 2017 that they would be discontinuing their Amazon Cloud Locker service. New users were accepted until January 15th, 2018; anyone who signs up now will not be able to upload their music to the service. Furthermore, current users won’t have access to their library following January 2019, which gives about seven months as of writing for current users to migrate off of the service or to switch to Amazon’s streaming music plan, described above. We’ve left this portion of the guide remaining for current subscribers through January 2019, as they still have access to the service, and have added a portion to our guide below these steps explaining what to do instead of relying on Amazon’s Cloud Music service. Keep in mind that, if you haven’t used Cloud Locker prior to January 2018, you can’t use the service.
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.
Playing Your Music Library Without Amazon Music Storage
In December of 2017, Amazon announced they’d be shuttering their cloud storage utility for Amazon Music, with new users unable to sign up for the service after January 15th, 2018. Likewise, current users would have their services discontinued by January 2019, which leaves our guide filled with an outdated way of uploading content to the cloud. If you’re a current user of Amazon’s cloud services for your music, you’re going to want to make sure you download your entire library before your subscription ends, or you’ll be reduced to 250 songs and unable to retrieve the lost songs. It’s unfortunate that Amazon has decided to end their cloud service, especially when Google still provides a free tier of up to 50,000 songs. Still, Amazon decided not enough people used the service, which leaves users in a bit of a predicament. Either they make the switch to Amazon Music Unlimited, which provides no cloud storage for local songs, or they forego listening to their music on an Echo device.
So, with our main method outlined above out of the way (which we’ll leave remaining for now, for any current Amazon Music subscribers to be able to use without having to refer to other guides), we’ll have to turn to other methods to get your Amazon Echo and Alexa to play your library from Google Music. As of writing, we have three distinct possibilities.
Use GeeMusic (Streaming Music)
If you use Google Play Music for its combination of streaming tracks and cloud storage, you might want to try setting up GeeMusic, a skill built by one of the members of the Amazon Echo subreddit over at Reddit. GeeMusic is available through GitHub, and was developed by Steven Leeg. It’s designed to act as a bridge between Google Play Music and your Alexa device, and though it’s a bit messy, it does work for the most part. Leeg answered questions about the software back at the tail end of 2016, and most of his advice still rings true today. (You can find some more advice on this here.)
Here’s the problem with GeeMusic: it’s incredibly difficult to setup, and even if you’re familiar with some of the steps asked in the tutorial, it’s still time consuming. The GitHub-hosted version has a pretty solid guide that makes it relatively easy to start using on your own, but even so, you’re still dealing with some serious coding in order to get Google Play Music and Amazon to talk to each other. In fact, we considered the difficulty in setting up GeeMusic to be so high, we didn’t include it in our original guide. But, with Amazon’s music service becoming a much less viable option for most users, it seemed only fair that we include it here, with some basic guides on how you would want to use the platform.
Leeg did do an excellent job creating a readable, user-friendly how-to guide, which you can view here by scrolling to the bottom of the page. Leeg mentions using UNIX environments (like MacOS and Linux) to create the online server necessary to serve as a bridge between the two platforms, so if you’re working on Windows, your barrier to entry is even higher. He also mentions that you should setup two-factor authentication on your devices in order to prevent some login issues. You’ll need to already have a server up and running on your device that can manage to host the software needed for GeeMusic; several Reddit users have reported Heroku, the famous Twitter bot client, to work for this. Finally, you’ll need Python 3 (the programming language) installed on your computer in order to follow the guide.
We really can’t do a better job than Leeg at explaining the process, so it’s worth checking out the how-to here. You should also check out a video of the finished product running on a Raspberry Pi here. This is a really complex, complicated workaround for the issue, and honestly, a lot of users might find that using something like Bluetooth saves a ton of time and energy. Still, it’s worth noting that this is totally a viable way of getting around the restrictions surrounding Google Play Music and Amazon Alexa. It just takes some hard work to get there.
Use the My Media Skill (Local Music)
Okay, so if you’re someone who uses your own library of music uploaded to the cloud with Google Play Music, we previously suggested using the Amazon Music Cloud service as a way to play your music with Alexa by commanding the Echo to play specific artists and songs. If you did make the switch, as we mentioned, you’ll want to download your content from Amazon before you lose it for good. Still, whether you’re redownloading your library from Google or Amazon, there’s an Alexa skill available for download that actually makes playing your local library a whole lot easier. Dubbed My Media, it’s available for Alexa straight from Amazon’s online Skill store for free, and it makes playing your local collection a whole lot easier.
Unlike GeeMusic, My Media only requires you to add the skill to your Echo or Alexa-enabled device, then to download the My Media for Alexa app onto your computer. This app works as a media server, like Plex but for your music only, and allows you to stream your music from a computer to your Alexa device without any kind of Bluetooth connection. The app does require your computer to be running in the background, but since My Media for Alexa works as a Windows Service, it starts running on your computer as soon as you boot the device. The app supports iTunes, playlists, and adding music from folders, so there’s no need to add music to a buggy program. My Media just works in the background as a service, and it does its job well.
There are two issues that may stop some people from choosing to use My Media for their local playback. First, though the skill is a free addition to your Alexa device, the actual service is not. My Media for Alexa has a weeklong free trial, during which you can use the app with unlimited media and two Family Share accounts. After that week is up, however, you’re asked to pay $5 for a yearlong subscription to the basic membership (which mirrors the trial), $10 for an Advanced membership, which adds an additional instance of a media server and three more Family Share accounts, and $15 per year for the Premium membership, which includes five media servers and 25 Family Share accounts. Still, the $5 basic plan should suffice for most, and considering that Amazon’s Music Storage ran users $25 per year, this shouldn’t be too much for most users to handle.
The second reason you might be turned off from My Media comes down to the controls. The voice commands designed by My Media aren’t bad per se, but they’re certainly difficult to remember. Unlike how Amazon’s Cloud service worked, you’re not asking Alexa to play from an Amazon account, but from your My Media server, which means you have to include “My Media: in every command. Some of these commands can be simple enough, like “Alexa, ask My Media to play songs by Carly Rae Jepsen” or “Alexa, ask My Media to play the album OK Computer.” But other commands are needlessly complex; for example, asking Alexa to play a genre through My Media requires you to say “Alexa, ask My Media to play some rap music.” If you don’t include the word “some,” your command is misregistered and Alexa will try to play a song with the genre name in the title, or will error out. It’s also important to note that the success of these commands rely entirely on how well you tagged your music library, so if your music ID isn’t up to snuff, My Media might end up being useless to you until you clean up your collection.
Still, My Media is a great way to move past the loss of Amazon Music Storage and into the future, even if it isn’t without a fair share of flaws. But the simplicity of the software compared to GeeMusic makes it ideal for moving away from Google’s Music app and moving back towards local libraries—all while keeping your Google library around to use on your phone and other mobile devices.
Look, we know. As a standard for music in an assistant-ready world, Bluetooth sucks. We already recommended it above, suggesting you use Bluetooth on either your phone or on your computer if you’re unwilling to make compromises to play music through Alexa. There’s no doubt in our minds that using Bluetooth is the last thing Echo owners might want to do, since you lose out on the ability to ask for specific songs and artists from your collection, instead forcing you to use your device to start playback. In all honesty, though, playing songs through Bluetooth could be a lot worse. You can still control your music with your voice, using commands like pause and play, and it requires almost no work on your end. You can use any music player you want, including Google Play Music, without having to jump through the hoops involved with something like GeeMusic. In the end, Bluetooth stands as the best way to play streaming music through Google Play Music, though you might still find the MyMedia command a bit more handy if your collection is made up of all local music.
The shutdown surrounding Amazon’s cloud storage is a real bummer, but we also have a feeling that most Google Play Music users with Alexa devices were relying on looking for a way to listen to their streaming collection anyway, not their cloud-uploaded collections. For those users, something like My Media is a good, if imperfect replacement for Amazon Music Storage. GeeMusic offers a way for streaming customers to bring Google Play Music to the Echo, but it’s incredibly difficult for most Echo users to setup, especially on Windows. At the end of the day, there’s no real easy way to get Google Play Music and Alexa to work well together without using Bluetooth, which definitely limits the amount of voice controls you can use with your assistant.
Still, there’s good news. 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. Your library won’t sync between Amazon and your Google Play Music app on the phone and web, but it’s better than nothing. Bluetooth remains an option, even if it’s unappealing for most people thanks to the lack of advanced voice control. And hey, there’s always the hope that Amazon and Google begin to work together more closely in the future. It’s unlikely, but Chromecast support came to the Amazon Music app back in December. Maybe Google will add the ability to speak to Alexa someday, too. But we wouldn’t hold our breaths.