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How To Play Music from YouTube on the Amazon Echo

Posted by Jamie on December 6, 2018

The Amazon Echo is capable of many things but one feature not so many people know about is the ability to take media from other sources and play it. That’s why I’m going to show you how to play music from YouTube on the Amazon Echo.

The Amazon Echo is a clever little device that is getting cleverer all the time. Like a cat, it is gradually insinuating itself into our lives without us really noticing. One minute it isn’t there and the next it is, comfortable, warm and purring contentedly and acting as if it has been there forever.

It comes with music ability built in. It can play Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and many others with built in apps. It can also play music from other sources via Bluetooth, including YouTube.

Play music from YouTube on the Amazon Echo

I listen to YouTube all the time. It’s free (for now) and has playlists and millions of tracks from emerging artists, music from the past and random stuff that it’s good to listen to sometimes. When Spotify isn’t hitting the spot, YouTube usually will. The ability to have the Echo play it is just a bonus.

It isn’t as simple as it should be though. As a competing product, the Amazon Echo naturally does not promote YouTube but it will play it if it has to. The downside is that you need an external device with Bluetooth to get it working. I use my phone connected to my home WiFi.

As long as you have a working Amazon Echo, a device with the YouTube app and Bluetooth, it doesn’t take long. Here’s how to set it all up:

  1. Turn on Bluetooth on your devices.
  2. Say ‘Alexa, pair Bluetooth.’
  3. Follow the instructions to pair the Echo with your device.
  4. Open the YouTube app on your device and play music.

You cannot control the YouTube app using your voice as you normally would but you can control the Echo element. You can stop playback, pause it, turn volume up or down but that’s about it. Those commands don’t affect the device playing YouTube, it continues playing regardless. It just controls the Echo’s playing of that music.

Add a skill to Alexa to play YouTube

While Amazon and Google are such fierce competitors, it is unlikely that we will see any direct YouTube compatibility anytime soon. Never mind that us consumers lose out because of it. As always, where there is a will there’s a way. A couple of enterprising coders have created Alexa skills that allow it to play nicely with YouTube.

One is ‘alexa-youtube’ from GitHub. It enables the Amazon Echo to play YouTube audio but not video just yet. It also allows you to control it using voice commands. The page includes excellent installation instructions too, which is a bonus.

The other is a British guy who has written an Alexa skill that also uses Amazon Web Services. It’s a neat solution that does a similar job to the skill from GitHub although it isn’t as simple or as well explained.

Alexa music commands

If you do get one of these working, or if you need reminding, the below is the current list of working Alexa voice commands for music. They all work with the built-in music apps and some will work with these skills.

Core Alexa music commands:

  • “Shuffle” or “Stop shuffle.”
  • “Stop” or “Pause.”
  • “Play” or “Resume.”
  • “Play some music.”
  • “Play what’s hot in Canada.”
  • “Play songs similar to the Nineties.”

Alexa music service commands

You can also command Alexa to work with music services as well as Amazon Prime Music or Music Unlimited. The Spotify commands may require Spotify Premium to work but may work in all situations. I have the premium so they all work for me so I couldn’t test them properly.

Some commands include:

  • “Play song, album, artist.”
  • “Play emotion or type of music.”
  • “Play station name.”
  • “Play playlist name.”
  • “Play a Prime Playlist.”
  • “Play songname from Prime Music.”
  • “Play music by composer, artist, band from Spotify.”
  • “Spotify connect or connect to Spotify.”
  • “Play genre from Spotify.”
  • “Show me songs, playlists, genres from Prime Music.”
  • “Who’s the lead singer for this band?”
  • “Block explicit songs.”
  • “Stop blocking explicit songs.”
  • “Add song, album, artist to playlist name.”
  • “Create a playlist.”

You can play music from YouTube on the Amazon Echo, it just takes a little figuring out. The Bluetooth connection part is a breeze and works well. You could still use voice commands if you use Siri or Google Now as long as you don’t get those and Alexa confused!

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