Google Home is quite the digital chameleon -- it can become a speakerphone, a game center, an audiobook library or a smart home hub, and it can change in and out of those things and more with just a word. But hands-down, the most popular form Google Home takes for most people is that of a limitless jukebox with a nearly infinite song library. Google Home can play practically any and every song you've ever wanted to hear -- and can pipe it all throughout your entire house -- with but one limitation: the music service or services you link to it.
Connecting your music subscriptions to Google Home might seem like a simple task, but it's one that far too many people put off until "later" in the rush to set up their smart speaker. Do that, though, and your speaker might not play the exact music you ask for, especially if you're already paying for a streaming service like Spotify or Pandora. And if you've avoided having to choose a default music service because you use
, which hadn't been supported, now you have no excuse -- as of December, Google Home now officially supports Apple Music, too.
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Whether you already have a Google Home or
speaker, or you're setting one up for the first time, taking five minutes to make a few simple adjustments can mean the difference between limited access to the music you love and an almost unlimited world of musical possibilities.
Here's how to figure out which plans will give you the best music experience on your Google Home or
Nest smart speaker, as well as how to set them up so they work seamlessly.
Here's how to find the settings menu you'll need
If you don't link the music services you use to the Google Home app, you'll wind up jamming to a generic
account with limited playback options and annoying ads. Same even if you do link a different paid service but leave YouTube Music as the default.
Any time you request a song, artist, genre or station without identifying which service you want to use, Google Home will automatically try to play your request from your default service first, so you'll want to use the best one you've got.
Here's how to link your music services to Google Home:
1. Open the Google Home app and tap on the Settings button.
2. In the bottom half of the list, tap Music (for Sirius XM, tap Radio).
3. Find the services you use and tap the link icon (the chain link icon to the right of each service).
4. On the screen that pops up, tap Link Account.
5. Enter your username and password for the service you're linking to and tap Log In.
Once you've linked all your services, simply tap the circle to the right of the one you want to use as your default. (Note that SiriusXM cannot be set as a default since it's a broadcast service.) You can also choose No default, but with so many free services available, why would you?
You can link up to 6 music services, but only 5 can be made default
In all, there are six music subscription services you can link to your Google Home account, all but one of which -- SiriusXM radio -- can be set as your default. Three of the available services -- Spotify, YouTube Music and Pandora -- offer free tiers that allow you to personalize your listening experience (playlists, favorites, etc.) but force you to suffer through audio advertisements instead of charging you a monthly fee. There's another tradeoff for using one of the free services, too: You can't choose specific songs to play, only "stations" built around requested songs.
Otherwise, the paid options are all more or less equal to one another with regard to their music libraries and other features, but with a few little ancillary differences that may sway you one way or another (for example, YouTube Music Premium also cancels ads when you watch
Here are your six Google Home music service options:
continues to hold the top spot on CNET's list of best music streaming services, in part because it has the most versatile free tier. That said, if you're thinking of coughing up $10 a month for Spotify Premium, consider YouTube Premium instead for the bonus of ad-free YouTube videos.
Apple Music was relatively late to the music subscription party, arriving almost four years after Spotify debuted in the US. Still, Apple Music caught on fast, and now has an estimated 72 million subscribers worldwide (compared to Spotify's 130 million) with access to as vast a music library as any other top-shelf service.
YouTube Music is a relative newcomer, but its library is just as robust as any of the others. As a huge bonus, the $10-a-month YouTube Premium plan not only cuts the commercials out of your music but gets rid of ads on YouTube videos as well.
made a name for itself well over a decade ago with the first algorithm-based radio stations. Nowadays, Pandora has two paid tiers: $5 for ad-free on-demand music and $10 for the same, plus you can make playlists.
Deezer is considered the French rival to Sweden's Spotify, but beyond that we don't have much experience with the service. Although Deezer does offer a free tier, only the paid premium plan works with Google Home.