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How To Play Free Music on the Echo Dot

Posted by Jamie on January 17, 2019

The whole reason the Amazon Echo series of devices is so cheap is because they are a gateway product. Owning one means chances are good that you will subscribe to Amazon Prime Music, buy audiobooks from Amazon or otherwise tie into the company’s ever-expanding suite of products and services. But what if you don’t want to do that? What if you want to use Alexa to play free music on your Echo Dot?

There are a couple of ways to play free music on your Echo Dot. You can link a third-party music service to Alexa or, play through a linked device through the Echo Dot. That takes a little figuring out but it is possible. You can use free music streaming apps and play them through the Echo Dot either through the device itself or via a paired phone. You can also play your own music, which while technically isn’t free, it is already paid for.

Link a third-party music service to your Echo Dot

Alexa may have Amazon Music set as the default but that doesn’t mean you have to leave it there. You can quickly change the default service from within the settings menu to play whatever service you want, including some free ones. You will need the Alexa app on your phone to make it work though.

  1. Open the Alexa app on your device.
  2. Select Settings and 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.

Some free music services that work this way include iHeartRadio, Pandora, TuneIn and some others. Spotify and Apple Music will both work too but only offer free trials rather than free accounts.

The other way to play free music on your Echo Dot is through a linked device.

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

You can pair your phone over Bluetooth and use your phone to stream music through your Echo Dot. This enables you to play a much wider variety of streams and even your own music if you have it saved on 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 ‘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.

Once paired, you will just need to tell Alexa to ‘connect’ to link your phone and Echo Dot.

You can now play any music from almost any source from your phone to your Echo Dot. If Amazon and Google are still arguing when you read this and are still banning each other’s’ products, you will be able to play YouTube this way. You can also play your own music or stream it using Plex or other media server through your phone to your Echo Dot.

Play your own music through your Echo Dot

I use Plex Media Server because it’s an amazing way to control a bunch of content, from music to video and stream it throughout your home. If you really want to stream your own music without having to load it onto your phone first, you can do it with Plex.

I covered the initial setup in ‘How To Use 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.

You will also need to add the Plex skill to Alexa from here. 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!

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