How to Play Music on the Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo is the prime Alexa device. It’s there to be the physical connection between the user and Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. The Amazon Echo does everything that Alexa does. It is voice-activated, it makes to-do lists, sets alarms, and plays audiobooks. It also provides real-time information about the weather, traffic, and news.
Most importantly, though, the Echo is capable of music playback. However, the Amazon Echo isn’t a music player. You can’t just load it up with your favorite MP3s and play them. This Alexa device uses other services to play music for you. Here’s a guide on how to play music on your Amazon Echo.
It’s All About Streaming
If you want to play music on your Echo from your library, you won’t be happy to hear that it isn’t that plain and simple. As mentioned, the Amazon Echo isn’t a music player. It doesn’t have the internal storage that you can use, and it depends on other services and devices to do anything.
So, you want to stream music on your Echo either way. You can connect it to your PC via Bluetooth and use it like any regular Bluetooth speaker. But what if your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth? What if you don’t want to bother with buying a Bluetooth USB dongle?
Well, the primary way to play music on your Echo is through a music streaming service. The Echo was designed to rely on online services for playing music, and this is the best way to go.
More Music Services
As you know, we live in an age of streaming. Everything is streamed these days, from TV and music to video games on Twitch and similar services. As a modern device, the Amazon Echo works best with streaming services.
But before moving onto how to set up the streaming services on your Echo, let’s see which one you have at your disposal. Fortunately, you can link your Echo device to several different music services. That means that you can stream music from Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, etc.
Of course, you’re going to need an active subscription to access most of them. Even those that require you to make a free account will likely need you to sign before letting you stream your favorite songs.
Linking the Services
To gain access to streaming services via Alexa, you’re going to have to connect each one first. There is a uniform way of linking every service to your Echo device – through the Alexa app.
Yes, to link a service to your Echo and use most features that the device offers, you’re going to need to use the Alexa app. Essentially, the smartphone/tablet app is your Echo interface. You can find the Alexa app in your Google Play Store or your App Store, depending on whether you’re using an Android or an iOS device.
Download the app, sign in to your account, and then link the service. To do this, start the Alexa app and navigate to the menu icon, located in the top-left screen corner. Then, navigate to Settings and scroll down until you hit Music. Amazon Music should already be linked to your Alexa app, along with some other streaming services. To add a new one, find and tap Link New Service.
On the next screen, you’ll see a list of supported streaming services. Find the one that you want to use, tap it, and select Enable to use on the next screen.
Let’s start with the service that you won’t even have to link to your Echo device. Yes, we’re talking about Amazon Music. There are two main subscription choices here. Amazon Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited.
Amazon Prime Music is a particularly great idea on Alexa devices because you’re already paying for it via your Amazon Prime subscription. So, why not use the service that’s already a part of your subscription?
Prime Music is far from bad – its catalogs are decent, and there are many fun playlists to choose from and stream. However, many songs are missing here. What’s strange is that some of the songs, artists even, that are missing on Prime Music are on Amazon’s standalone Music Unlimited.
The downside here, however, is that you can’t connect Amazon Prime Music directly to your Echo device. You can download the app to your smartphone/tablet, stream music from the device, and play it via Amazon Prime Music.
Now, Amazon Music Unlimited is undoubtedly a better option than Prime Music. In addition to a better music catalog, it features high-resolution audio, and it works with Alexa devices. That means that you can connect this service directly with the Alexa app.
With the free subscriptions, you get ads and a limited number of playlists. That isn’t bad, but Spotify offers 50 million songs. The paid subscriptions give you access to an ad-free experience with a broader catalog.
Apple has started dipping its toes into the streaming markets, and music is no exception. What’s interesting about this service, however, is that it isn’t exclusive to Apple devices. There is an Android app available, and you can find it as a link option for your Echo device within the Alexa app. What’s more, Windows, Chrome OS, Sonos, web browsers, HomePod, and CarPlay, support this service, in addition to Apple devices.
There isn’t a free subscription plan, although you do get a three-month trial, which is generous, to be fair. After that, you get to choose between the Single Membership and the Family Membership plans. The family plan allows up to 6 people in a single iCloud Family Sharing space.
If you’re an Apple enthusiast and don’t mind paying a monthly fee, link Apple Music to your Amazon Echo. Of course, go ahead and give the 3-month trial a shot before you make the purchase.
Spotify is pretty much the king of music streaming. Sure, the competition is fierce, but Spotify is a brand that is quite close to becoming a regular noun. Ubiquity is one of its main upshots. You can access it through the web player, from a multi-platform desktop app, via a mobile app, even via gaming consoles, TV sets, TV boxes, and smartwatches.
What’s fantastic with Spotify for desktop is that it is a music player, in addition to being a streaming service. That means that you can play MP3, MP4, and M4P files you have on your computer.
Spotify for the desktop will satisfy most of your music listening needs. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available on the mobile app version or the web player. Additionally, the desktop app can’t play higher-quality M4A files.
There are neat lyrics and behind-the-scenes information features for Spotify on Android and iOS. However, this doesn’t do anything for your Spotify Echo experience, as Echo is a speaker without a visual interface.
Spotify does come with a free subscription, but it won’t allow you to link the service to your Echo device. Of course, you could stream audio from your phone and play music on you Spotify for free, but this is somewhat tedious.
The Premium and Family Plans aren’t too expensive, though, and having such an excellent music streaming service on your Echo surely pays off. Fifty million songs and a brilliant playlist building options make Spotify one of the best streaming services on the market.
Pandora is one of the most popular music streaming services out there. The things it excels at, however, are its plans and pricing. Although streaming services are generally pretty flexible, none of them compares to Pandora.
The streaming service offers Premium and Premium family plans that are the same price as the ones you can find on Spotify and Apple Music. However, Pandora has another step between the Free plan and the Premium plan.
It’s worth noting that Pandora is an excellent match with Alexa because of its very nature. Although it is a streaming service, the free subscription gives you the feel of listening to internet radio. The cool thing here, though, is that you are the one who creates the radio stations. Through songs, genres, and artists you like, Pandora makes a playlist just for you.
You will have to listen to an occasional ad on the Free plan, but this is the thing that gives Pandora the vibe of internet radio. The ads are few and far between, though, and are about 15-30-seconds long. The only real downside for the free plan subscribers is that you get a limit on how many times you’re allowed to skip songs. That can be somewhat annoying.
With Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium, you get unlimited skips and no commercials. You also get to play any song that you want to. With the Premium subscription, however, you get to share the playlists with your friends and download an unlimited number of radio stations. With Pandora Plus, you can download only four.
Pandora is also missing a lot of songs compared to other streaming services. Don’t be surprised when you get a “no results” response when you tell Alexa to play something for you.
Another downside is that Pandora doesn’t offer the standard 320kbps quality. There are three audio levels that you can choose from – 32 kbps, AAC+, 64 kbps, AAC+, and High: 192 kbps, MP3. Unless you’re in the music industry or an audiophile, you shouldn’t notice this when listening through your Echo. Plus, the whole lo-fi aspect makes it feel like you genuinely are listening to the radio.
This streaming service won’t make your head spin. It doesn’t offer any crazy new features that its competitors don’t. It’s your regular streaming service. And that’s what makes it so unique.
Deezer has a brilliant interface that is more user-friendly and more responsive than the one you get with Spotify. And we are talking about the top music streaming service on the market here.
Deezer successfully blends traditional music streaming with podcasts and live radio. It also boasts cool features such as lyrics, for instance. If you like to listen to podcasts or radio while doing stuff around the house, Deezer is a great choice.
Another cool thing about Deezer is that it’s on every platform. Yes, this includes the Amazon Echo. You can create a dedicated Deezer account or sign up with your Facebook or Google account, which is fantastic.
Deezer’s free subscription plan may annoy you with ads. This plan won’t satisfy an audiophile’s ear, but 320Kbps MP3 is more than sufficient for most listeners. The free subscription will limit your skips and won’t play album songs in order but on a shuffle.
The Standard plan will remove the ads, give you unlimited skips, and allow offline listening. Oh, and it gives you the CD-quality, lossless audio quality. There is also a Family Plan, but this has become an industry standard.
If you’re looking for exclusive album access, early tickets, and brilliant lossless, CD-quality sound, Tidal is a great choice. With this music streaming service, you get fantastic benefits that you don’t see every day in the world streaming services.
The main downside to Tidal, however, is that it lacks a free subscription option. There is a 320Kbps plan and a non-compressed, Tidal HiFi plan. You have to pay for both, though the latter is pricier than the family plans that other streaming services offer. However, Tidal, too, offers a Family Plan, as well as a HiFi Family Plan. They cover up to five people, whereas the industry standard is six.
But something that you don’t get with other services is access to premium content. For your Echo experience, this means that you get exclusive content to specific albums before they hit other platforms. Another cool thing is Tidal-exclusive concert streaming.
Tidal also offers its vast Masters catalog, where you can find everything from Beatles’ albums to rap and grunge. The Masters collection also offers studio-quality audio streams.
With that said, Tidal won’t let you record streaming audio. It doesn’t allow you to download songs, either. However, if you’re looking for quality audio and exclusive content for your Amazon Echo device, Tidal is pretty much a done deal.
So far, we’ve mostly talked about music streaming apps. And yes, what else is there to talk about on the subject of playing music on your Echo. But you might want something more than music on your Alexa device. Maybe you want to stream music during the day, and then tune in to a live radio talk show in the evening. Most Echo-compatible streaming apps do offer podcasts and even audiobooks, but that isn’t live radio.
Enter SiriusXM, a streaming platform that is also a live radio. Three subscription tiers are available. Mostly Music is self-explanatory. With it, you do get access to particular talk show stations, but mostly, you get access to music on more than 80 ad-free channels.
With the second subscription option, Select, you get north of 140 channels. That gives you access to all music channels from Mostly Music, as well as artist, news, weather, comedy, traffic, and sports channels.
The most expensive All Access plan gives you on-demand functionality. You get comedy and music channels, NBA, PGA, and MLB.
SiriusXM also gives you something that the regular radio doesn’t – the TuneStart feature. What this feature does is it always plays a song from the beginning. It also allows you to pause the live radio and rewind it with a 5-minute buffer. It’s like using the radio but better.
All these commands are available on your Alexa app, which is great for when you’re doing things around the house, and your favorite song pops up. You don’t have to start another app on your device and play the song, SiriusXM will play the song from the start.
The service also comes with dedicated radio stations specific to artists and bands, which is brilliant for die-hard fans. You can even personalize your listening experience using the MySXM feature, but you’ll have to do this on a device other than your Echo.
Gimme Radio is available on your Amazon Echo, and it’s all about metal music. That’s right, even some of metal’s top names such as Dave Mustaine from Megadeth are among its curators.
It’s a radio station where the experts prepare content for the listener. If you are a metalhead and want to experience an internet radio, this is the place to go.
Granted, Gimme Radio isn’t vastly popular, as some of the big names mentioned earlier. However, it has earned its place among the Alexa app users, next to giants such as Spotify and Apple Music, and that’s pretty amazing.
Choosing the Perfect Streaming Service
If you want to play music on your Amazon Echo, first, you need to select the right streaming service. You can link each one of the reviewed services to your Alexa device, and they are also somewhat different.
An alternative here would be to stream music directly from your phone or PC. But this limits your options and isn’t as convenient as using a dedicated streaming service.
Which service would you go with and why? How much are you willing to pay for a subscription? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it.