FAQ Part 5: Alexa Music Commands & Services

Post Updated: 11/21/18 – The Alexa FAQ series continues with information about listening to audio through Echo devices, using Alexa music commands. This is another long post, but it’s another big topic!

Follow the links at the bottom of this post to view all other posts in the series.

Note that the information provided here is accurate as of this update, on 11/21/18, but is subject to change in the future as the Alexa service and devices evolve.

Amazon Music vs. Amazon Music Library vs. Prime Music vs. Amazon Music Unlimited

First things first: there’s a lot of confusion over the different music libraries Alexa can access via Amazon.

Amazon Music is the Amazon Digital Music department on the Amazon site. It includes Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, and all the other digital music that isn’t part of either of those programs. When you go to Amazon > Digital Music through the department menu or select Digital Music when using the main Amazon site search bar, you’re accessing Amazon Music.

Amazon Music Library, aka My Music, is the online space where Amazon stores its customers’ digital music. Every Amazon customer gets their own Amazon Music Library for free, and can add music to it through Amazon Music purchases, or adding Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited tracks. Users can play and organize their music, create custom playlists, edit the details for tracks and artists, and purchase or download music from within Amazon Music Library: it works much the same as iTunes.

You can access your Amazon Music Library via the free Amazon Music mobile app (also available in the iTunes store for Apple devices), the free Amazon Music desktop app, the Web Player on the Amazon site itself (Amazon > Account & Lists > Your Music Library), or any of the Amazon devices that can play music (Fire tablets, Kindle readers, Fire TV, Fire Phone, Alexa-enabled devices). This broad accessibility makes Amazon Music Library a very attractive option for maintaining a single, centralized digital music library.

Amazon Prime Music is a rotating selection, or sub-set, of the albums and tracks from Amazon Music that Amazon Prime members can access at no additional charge. Prime Music albums and tracks are designated with the Prime logo on their Amazon product pages. Prime members can stream Prime Music tracks and albums while browsing the Amazon site by clicking the Listen Now button on product pages, or they can add Prime Music to their Amazon Music Library to make it available for streaming through the Amazon Music app. Once Prime Music has been added to your Amazon Music Library, you can include those albums, tracks and artists in your custom playlists. Prime Music also includes “stations”, which are pre-curated libraries of tracks in a single genre or mood. You request them by asking Alexa to “play [name] station on Prime Music.” Prime Music tracks, albums, playlists and stations can all be accessed from within the Amazon Music app.

Amazon Music Unlimited (AMU) (UK readers click here) is a relatively new offering Amazon launched as a competitor to popular streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Like those services, AMU offers music streaming on demand by artist, album name or genre, plus a large selection of pre-curated playlists organized by artist, occasion, mood and more.

AMU’s music library is rotating, like Prime Music, but the available catalog is much larger than what you get with Prime music. We’re talking tens of millions of tracks under AMU versus just over 2 million tracks under Prime Music. There’s some overlap though, meaning that some Prime Music tracks and albums are also included in AMU. In general, AMU will tend to have more of the newest music and artists than Prime Music does.

Streaming Services

Alexa can access music, podcasts and other audio from a few different streaming services. You can select and link your preferred services in the Alexa app on the in the Music, Video & Books tab of the main menu.

iHeartRadio, Pandora and TuneIn support is included for free in the Alexa service in the US, and TuneIn is included for free in the UK. Readers outside the US and UK: please check the Alexa > Listen to Music section in the Help pages on your Amazon site for further guidance on support for this feature in your country. You can listen to any streaming radio station from anywhere in the world via TuneIn. Say the wake word followed by “play radio station [call letters] on TuneIn”. Note that not all broadcast radio stations offer internet streaming, but most of the large ones do. iHeartRadio offers sports, news, discussion and religious programming in addition to music, and TuneIn includes all of those program types as well as podcasts.

Support for SiriusXM and Spotify Premium are offered in the U.S. as well.

You can ask for music by artist name or genre on any of the streaming services by asking Alexa to “play music by [artist] on [service name],” “play [genre] music on [service name],” or “play [name] station on [service name]”, or similar. Because streaming music service contracts vary there’s no guarantee a specific song or even artist will be available on a given streaming service, but if your requested item is unavailable the station will offer something similar.

Streaming Music Via Bluetooth

With Bluetooth streaming, you can start audio playing on any Bluetooth-capable device and have it piped to your Alexa device so that the sound comes out of the Alexa device instead of the one where you started the audio playing. This is very useful for cases where you have a large music or podcast library stored on your phone or tablet, or typically use iTunes on your computer, but want to hear that audio through your Alexa device speaker. Most current-model laptops, smart phones and tablets have Bluetooth capability, but you may need to turn it on in your device’s settings.

Turn Bluetooth on in the device and put it into pairing mode; this should be an option on your device’s Bluetooth menu. Place the device in range of the Alexa device (generally within 6-10 feet) and say “[wake word], pair.” Alexa will detect your device and instruct you to go to it and select the Alexa device from the Bluetooth pairing screen. Once your device is paired, open the app you normally use for music playback on the paired device and start some music.

The paired device should automatically re-pair anytime it comes within range of the Alexa device you’ve paired it to.

Music / Audio Playback Commands

Amazon’s already created a very useful chart of audio commands, so I’ll just reproduce it here:

If a song, album, artist, genre, or playlist is not in My Music, Alexa searches the Amazon Music catalog or samples from the Digital Music Store when available.

Note: Some Alexa features and services may vary by country.

Basic Music Commands

To do this… Say this…
Adjust the volume “Volume up / down.”

“Set volume to level [number].”

Hear details about the song currently playing “What is this?”

“Who is this?”

“What song is this?”

“Who is this artist?”

“When did this song/album come out?”

Stop the song currently playing “Stop.”


Play or resume paused songs or tracks “Play.”


Set or cancel a sleep timer “Set a sleep timer for [x] minutes / hours.”

“Stop playing music in [x] minutes/hours.”

“Cancel sleep timer.”

Go to the next or previous song* “Next.”


Loop the music queue** “Loop.”
Shuffle songs** “Shuffle.”

“Stop shuffle.”

Repeat songs*** “Repeat this song.”

*Not supported: TuneIn. In addition, Pandora and iHeartRadio do not support the ability to go back to the previous song or restart a song.

**Not supported: TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Amazon Stations.

***Not supported: TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify Premium, and Amazon Stations.

Advanced Music Commands

To do this… Say this…
Play a song “Play some music.'”

“Play the song, ‘[title].'”

Play an album “Play the album, ‘[title].'”
Play music by an artist “Play songs by [artist].”
Play songs by genre “Play some [genre] music.” “Play some [genre name] music from Spotify.”
Play a playlist “Listen to my [title] playlist.”

“Shuffle my [title] playlist.”

Discover popular local and global music “Play the top songs in [city].”

“Play what’s hot in [country].”

Play music you haven’t heard in a while “Play some [artist / genre] [songs / albums] I haven’t heard in a while.”

“Play a [station / playlist] I haven’t heard in a while.”

Play music similar to a specific song, artist, artist mood or era “Play more like this.”

“Play songs similar to [song / artist].”

“Play songs similar to [mood / era] [artist].”

Play music you’ve listened to recently “Play the [artist / genre / station / playlist] I was listening to on [day].”

“Play the [artist / genre] songs I heard [yesterday (morning / afternoon) / last night].”

On Echo devices with a screen: Browse your music “Show me my playlists.”

“Show me albums by [artist].”

“Show me rock songs.”

Music Services

To do this… Say this…
Play Amazon Music Unlimited “Play [song / album / artist].”

“Play some music.”

“Play [emotion] music.”

“Play the song that goes [lyrics].”

“Play a playlist.”

“Play brand new music.”

“Play new [genre].”

“Play [decade genre].”

“Play [station name].”

“Play {playlist name}.”

“Play [holiday] music.”

Play Prime Music “Play [song / album / artist] from Prime Music.”

“Play some Prime Music.”

“Play a Prime playlist.”

“Play [station name] from Prime.”

“Play {playlist name} from Prime Music.”

“Play new [genre] from Prime Music.”

“Play [artist] first single from Prime Music.”

“Who’s the lead singer for this [band]?”

“Show me [songs / playlists / genres] from Prime.”

Play Spotify Premium

(only on Amazon Alexa devices)

“Play [title] from Spotify.”

“Play [title] by [artist] from Spotify.”

“Play songs by [artist] from Spotify.”

“Play music composed by [composer] from Spotify.”

“Play {playlist} from Spotify.”

“Play [genre] from Spotify.”

“Play Spotify.”

“Spotify Connect. / Connect to Spotify.” (enables Spotify Connect)

“Show me [songs / playlists / genres / albums] from Spotify.”

Play a custom station (iHeartRadio, Pandora, and Amazon Stations) “Play my [artist / genre] station on [Prime Music/ Pandora / iHeartRadio].”
Play a radio station (TuneIn and iHeartRadio) “Play [station frequency].”

“Play the station [station call sign].”

“Play the station [name].”

Play a podcast or program (TuneIn and iHeartRadio) “Play the podcast [title].”

“Play the program [title].”

Like / Dislike a song (Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and Pandora) “Thumbs up / down.”

“I [like / don’t like] this song.”

Skip to the next song (Amazon Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora) “Skip.”

Note: Free Pandora accounts are limited to six skips per hour per station. iHeartRadio accounts are limited to six skips per hour per station (for up to 15 skips per day across all custom stations). Prime Stations offer unlimited skips.

Take a frequently-played song out of the rotation (Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Amazon Stations) “I’m tired of this song.”
Create a station (iHeartRadio and Pandora) “Make a station for [artist].”

“Create an [iHeartRadio / Pandora] station based on [artist].”

Lookup By Lyrics

Note that with music you obtain from Amazon sources (Prime Music, My Music/Music Library, Amazon Music Unlimited), you can also look up songs by their lyrics. Just ask Alexa to “play the song that goes [lyric fragment],” or ask her, “what’s the song that goes [lyric fragment]” to get the song title.

Enjoy your Alexa device, and be sure to come back here to follow the rest of this Alexa FAQ series.
I’ll be continuing the series with posts to cover the basics of Alexa calling and messaging, using Alexa devices as an intercom system, using Alexa to control video on your TV, a look at the various Alexa devices and gadgets now available as well as the differences among them, the Alexa Flash Briefing, Alexa utilities like reminders, alarms and calendar integration, and a sort of catch-all mailbag FAQ at the end.

Click here to subscribe, so you’ll be notified when each new post is published. You’ll also want to bookmark any posts in the series you might need to refer to frequently in the future, and use the handy social media links at the bottom of this post to share with others who’ve received (or you know will be receiving!) Alexa devices.

Click here to read part 1, Alexa Basics For Those Giving or Getting An Alexa Device.

Click here to read part 2, Six Things To Try With Alexa.

Click here to read part 3, Alexa With WiFi & Bluetooth.

Click here to read part 4, Alexa Privacy and Security.

Click here to read part 6, Alexa Calling and Messaging.

Click here to read part 7, An Alexa Intercom System with Alexa Drop-In.

Click here to read part 8, Alexa Alarms, Reminders and Timers.

Click here to read part 9, Using Alexa To Control Your TV.

Click here to read part 10, Alexa Flash Briefing

Click here to read part 11, Alexa Calendar Integration

Click here to read part 12, Comparing Alexa Devices.

Click here to read part 13, Alexa FAQ Conclusion: Mailbag, Alexa Communities.