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9 Alexa tips for music lovers

If you love music and your Alexa speaker, here are nine things you should know.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Simple as it may be, streaming music is one of Alexa's key features, largely because it does it so well. Alexa removes a lot of the friction that used to exist when trying to play music throughout your home. You no longer have pull out a phone, connect the phone to the speaker, look up the music and play. Now you just say what you want to listen to and it plays.

If, like me, you're a music lover and can't imagine going back to the dark ages of music streaming, below are nine music tips and tricks for your Alexa speaker.

Change the default music service

If you use anything other than Amazon's in-house streaming services, you should take a few seconds to change the default music streaming service.

To do this, go to alexa.amazon.com or open the Alexa app on your iPhone ($999 at Walmart) or Android device. Then go to Settings > Music & Media > Choose Default Music Service. Under Default music library select Spotify or, for radio, select Pandora or iHeartRadio under Default station service.

Now when you play music, you won't have to specify what service you want to stream the music. However, if you still want to use Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited, at any point, you can say, "Alexa, play [song or artist] on Amazon Music."

Find similar music

If you're tired of listening to the same songs all the time, Alexa can mix things up for you by finding similar music. Say something like, "Alexa, play music similar to Fleet Foxes." This works for both similar songs and artist.

Create playlists

Earlier this month, Amazon rolled out the ability to create playlists with Alexa. There's a catch, of course. It only works with Amazon's own music streaming services. So if you're a Spotify user, you'll have to resort to building your playlists from your phone or computer. To create a playlist with Alexa, say:

  • "Alexa, create a new playlist."
  • "Alexa, create a 'Road Trip' playlist."
  • "Alexa, add this song to my [playlist name] playlist."

So far, you can only add songs to your playlist. To rename a playlist, remove songs from it or make any other changes to it, you'll have to use the Amazon Music app.

Create a music alarm

With Alexa, you can wake up to music, as well. Music alarms work with Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and SiriusXM. There are several different ways to create a music alarm:

  • "Alexa, wake me up to The Avett Brothers."
  • "Alexa, set an alarm to CNET on TuneIn."
  • "Alexa, wake me up to relaxing music."
  • "Alexa, set an alarm to rock music."

Play music across multiple speakers

You can stream music to multiple Alexa speakers around your house, a la Sonos. To make this possible, first, go to alexa.amazon.com or open the Alexa app on your mobile device, then go to Settings > Multi-Room Music. Once there, create a group including the speakers you want to play music. Then say, "Alexa, play The National on [group name]."

Play your own music

If your music streaming service isn't natively supported by Alexa, you can still listen to it through your Alexa speaker -- you'll just need to use Bluetooth.

To pair your phone with Alexa, say, "Alexa, pair," or "Alexa, Bluetooth." Look for the Alexa speaker in the Bluetooth settings on your phone. Select it to pair and begin streaming music.

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Get music news

If you like to keep up with current events in the music industry, Alexa can help. Add Amazon's own Today in Music skill to your Flash Briefing. Then you can create a routine to play your Flash Briefing at a certain time every day. Or manually play the Flash Briefing by saying, "Alexa, play my Flash Briefing," or "Alexa, what's in the news?"

Alexa music skills

Outside the natively supported streaming services, there are also Alexa skills that can play music. You can play everything from ambient, spa music and classical music in the public domain to cultural music and even radio stations.

To find new music skills, just browse the Music & Audio category in the skills catalog.

Music trivia

On a related note, one thing you'll never find a shortage of in the Alexa skills catalog is trivia skills. The same holds true for music trivia. Go to alexa.amazon.com or open the Alexa app and go to Skills. Search for "music trivia" and you will find trivia for different decades of music, trivia games you can play with your friends and much, much more.