Here’s another guest post from Yancey Grantham, who last week contributed the very informative How To Speak Alexa article.
Being an Echo DJ is easy and fun. Here are a few tips to help you along. The different services use different algorithms for choosing music that is similar to what you’ve requested. For example, you get different groupings of songs when you ask for ‘Dance’ on Prime Music, iHeart Radio or Pandora.
Note: you do not have to have Prime Music to use Echo.
Sometimes Echo has a hard time understanding what you want. I could not get Echo to play my Salsa station on Pandora, so renamed it to ‘Pepper.’ Salsa music is fun when you are cooking Mexican food.
Play Music By The Era
If you have Prime Music you can ask “play songs from the 60’s” to get a playlist, or any of these eras: 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 2000 (“Alexa, play music from the two thousands”). If you don’t like the playlist that starts, repeat the request and a new playlist will load. Note: asking for songs from the 2010s does not bring the desired result.
Warning: if you ask “Alexa, play songs from 2001” you’ll get very NSFW (Not Safe For Work) samples from Dr. Dre.
Play Music By Genre
Let’s look at playing music in different genres. For example you can ask:
Alexa, play pop. (plays Prime Music)
Alexa, play pop on iHeart Radio.
Alexa, play pop on Pandora.
The following keywords work for Prime, iHeart Radio and Pandora. If you don’t already have a station set up, agree to do so when Echo asks. You might have to go into your Pandora and create the station.
Blues, Classical, Country, Dance, Electronic, Folk, Funk, Hip Hop, Jazz, Oldies, Pop, Reggae
At this time Echo can’t play genre-based stations from TuneIn.
Quirks and Glitches
Here are some interesting problems I ran into. I had to change my Moody Blues station on Pandora to something that did not include the word “blues” so the blues station wouldn’t play instead.
I could not get Echo to play my Classic Rock Radio station on Pandora, it keeps returning to Prime. Also, you need to enunciate “Classical” clearly or it plays “classic rock.” Classical on iHeart Radio played musicals for me.
On Pandora, I could never get disco or salsa to work.
Here are examples of what works on iHeart Radio and Pandora:
Deep House, Today’s Country, Today’s Hit Radio
Here are examples of what works on Prime Music and iHeart Radio:
Big Band, Electric Blues, Classic Rock, Disco, Industrial, Punk, Rock, Techno
Remember that if you like what you hear you can ask for the name of the song (“Alexa: what’s the name of this song?”).
Experiment To Learn What Works Best For You
Now it’s time for you to be an Echo experimental DJ. Ask Echo to play your favorite artist or song and see if Prime has it. Then ask Echo to play your favorite artist on iHeart Radio and Pandora. Create your own stations using your favorite genres, artists and songs.
If you have problems with Echo not playing what you want, add the keywords “station” or “radio” to the request.
Stations & Playlists To Try
These lists are not exhaustive, but they give you some idea of stations and playlists to try requesting from the various Echo music sources.
Pandora: Las Vegas, Santana, Moody Blues, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, Ottmar Liebert, Brian Eno, Jack White, Peter Gabriel, Stephen Stills, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Tchaikovsky, Budapest (symphonic, romantic period), Seattle Sound (grunge), New Age Pop, Kool and the Gang, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Bang the Drum all Day
IHeartRadio: Call Me Romantic, Symphonic Spectacular, Grunge, Trip Hop, Alternative Pop/Rock, Dancehall, Ska, Electro, Dance Evolution 101.7
Prime: House, Classical
Prime/Pandora: Claude Debussy, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson
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The Leviton DZPA1-1LW Decora Z-Wave Controls 15-Amp Plug-In Appliance Module is an Echo-compatible alternative to the WeMo smart receptacle. Note that as of this writing Wink doesn’t offer a starter kit, and a Wink Hub is required to use any of the Wink smart home products.
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