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How To Play Free Music on the Echo Dot

Posted by Robert Hayes on May 29, 2019

The Echo Dot is Amazon’s home automation “wedge product”, an inexpensive yet highly functional device that might not make a whole lot of money in and of itself, but which serves to introduce households to the Amazon ecosystem and win new customers for Amazon’s commercial empire. The thinking is that once you own a Dot, you’ll want to subscribe to Amazon Prime Music, order your groceries through Prime, and so on. It’s not a bad strategy, but it’s not an irresistible one either. In fact, you can use your Dot without ever touching another Amazon product if you really want to.

One of the most popular uses for the Echo Dot is as a music control system. It’s truly empowering to be able to be sitting in any room of your house, have an urge to hear a song hit you, and just say “Hey Alexa! Play [that song I’ve been wanting to hear]” and having it come on two seconds later. However, although Amazon would like it very much if you would get all your music through their premium services, the fact of the matter is that you can configure your Echo Dot to work with pretty much any music service out there. In this article, I’m going to show you how to get your Dot configured to play music from a variety of free sources.

There are a few different ways to get free music from your Echo Dot. You can link a free music service to your Dot through the Alexa app, you can play music from a linked device through your Dot, or you can play music in your own personal library through the Dot. I’ll show you how to set up each one of these.

Link a third-party music service to your Echo Dot

Your Echo Dot starts out with Amazon Music as the default music player, and if you have a Prime membership you might just leave it there because the music isn’t costing you anything above your Prime subscription costs. However, if you don’t have Prime then you’ll want to hook your Dot up to a better source of free music. There are several free services with built-in Alexa integration, including iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn. You can also link to the free tiers of a Spotify or Apple Music subscription as well. Here’s how.

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone or computer.
  2. Select Settings->Music.
  3. Select Link New Service and select your chosen service from the list.
  4. Follow the wizard to add logins or set as default.

The Link New Service feature includes many of the more popular music services but not all of them. If you can’t see the one you want to add, go back to Music and select Manage Services. You should be able to search the service from there.

Use a linked device to play free music on your Echo Dot

The other way to play free music on your Echo Dot is through a linked device such as a smartphone. You can pair your phone (or other Bluetooth-enabled device) to your Echo Dot via Bluetooth and use your Echo as a speaker for the music you’re streaming (from whatever source) through your phone. Pairing is very straightforward but requires the Alexa app installed onto the device.

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your phone.
  2. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  3. Say ‘Alexa, pair’ out loud where Alexa on the Echo Dot can hear.
  4. Select the Echo Dot in the Bluetooth screen of your phone once detected and pair the two.
  5. Say “Alexa, connect” to link your phone and the Echo Dot.
  6. Play music from any source on your phone.

Play your own music through your Echo Dot

If you have an extensive media library on your device, you can use Plex Media Server to organize it and to stream it anywhere in your home – including to your Echo Dot. We have a complete walkthrough of setting up Plex with the Amazon Echo. Essentially, you install Plex onto a computer with all your media. Set it up as a media center and allow it to stream over WiFi. You then install the Plex app on your phone and join it to the same network, then add the Plex skill to Alexa. Sign into your Plex account using the skill and authorize it. Make sure your Echo Dot is on and listening and then say ‘Alexa, ask Plex to change my server’ so your server is detected and set as the default source.

You will need to use specific commands to play music from Plex. You need to add ‘Ask Plex to play…’ to your commands to get Alexa to play your music. Otherwise, the process is the same as using any other third-party service.

Those are the ways I know of to play free music on your Echo Dot. Know of any others? Tell us about them below if you do!

We’ve got a lot more resources for getting the most out of your Echo Dot.

Want to know what all the colors mean? See our guide to the color codes on your Echo Dot.

We’ve got a more comprehensive walkthrough of listening to Apple Music on your Echo Dot.

For a better audio experience, here’s how to pair your Echo Dot with a Bluetooth speaker.

Love podcasts? Here’s a guide to playing podcasts on your Echo Dot.

Want to listen to your TV audio on your Dot? Here’s how to route TV sound through an Echo Dot.

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