Smart Home

How Amazon's Alexa can help you make a great playlist

Turn Alexa into your own personal DJ.

How to make a playlist on your Amazon Echo Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar / Getty / gilaxia

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From checking the latest football stats to figuring out what to pack your kid for lunch, there’s a lot you can ask of your Echo. But, one of the most versatile features of the smart speakers’ digital assistant, Alexa, is the ability to create a playlist.

Ready to rock out in your kitchen while you prepare your next meal? Or maybe you want to lay your head down on your pillow and drift off into slumber listening to soothing bedtime tunes. Whether you’re using our favorite Echo device, the Echo second-generation, or the ever-popular Echo Dot, Alexa can help you create a playlist for any time of the day. Here’s how.

1. Sign up for a music streaming service

Select music service
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Alexa-enabled devices are compatible with music streaming services like Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify.

In order to build playlists to listen to on your Echo, you’ll need a compatible streaming service. Prime members automatically have access to over two million songs and thousands of curated playlists at no additional cost thanks to Prime Music. However, you can access a full library of more than 50 million songs by signing up for Amazon Music Unlimited. Both services are supported on Alexa-enabled devices, come with unlimited plays, and are free of advertisements.

If you’d rather use a different streaming service (like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, SiriusXM, or Pandora), you must enable the service’s skill in the Alexa app before you can start jamming. The good news is that Alexa is compatible with most popular music streaming services. Not sure which one to go with? Check out the differences between Apple Music and Spotify to help you make your decision.

2. Sync the music service in the Alexa app

Apple Music sync with Alexa
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy / Jackson Ruckar

To connect a music service, open the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.

Before you can start listening to your favorite playlists on your Echo, you’ll need to connect your chosen streaming service with Alexa. However, Prime Music and Amazon Music Unlimited users don’t have to worry about this step.

But, if you’re using Apple Music or Spotify, you will need to connect the account to your Echo to listen to your playlists. In the Amazon Alexa app, navigate to the Settings folder. Then, underneath Alexa Preferences, select Music. This is where you’ll link your new music streaming service to your Echo, like Spotify or Apple Music. Apple Music subscribers can also enable the “Apple Music” skill in the Alexa app by linking a valid account.

3. Create your playlist

Create playlist
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You can start building playlists using any Alexa-enabled speaker.

Creating a playlist using your Alexa-enabled device will vary depending on which music service you’re using. To start, Amazon Music subscribers can say, “Alexa, create a new playlist.” She’ll confirm by asking what you’d like to name the playlist. Once you tell her the title, you can begin adding your favorite hits to the playlist. But, the way you go about adding songs isn’t as simple as it is to create the playlist.

Currently, Alexa is not able to add songs to your playlist via verbal commands unless you’re already listening to a song.

If a song is playing on your Echo and you’d like to add it to one of your Amazon Music playlists, say, “Alexa, add this song to my [playlist name] playlist.” Additionally, songs can also be added by using the Amazon Music app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. Music can also be added to your custom playlist by visiting the Amazon Music website, so you can add a song without your phone nearby.

At the time of publication, creating a new playlist by asking Alexa is not supported by Apple Music or Spotify. But you can still add songs to your playlist manually in the Apple Music app or Spotify app, or by using the desktop versions of either platform.

4. Start listening on your Echo

Amazon Echo
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Echo is outfitted with Dolby processing and can fill a room with sound.

Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to get groovin’. To listen to the playlist on your Echo, ask Alexa to put it on. If you have Amazon Music, you can say, “Alexa, play my [name of playlist] playlist.”

If you’re using a streaming service outside of Amazon, you’ll need to be more specific when asking Alexa to put on your preferred playlist. For example, Apple Music subscribers can say, “Alexa, play my workout playlist on Apple Music,” whereas Spotify users can ask, “Alexa, play my bedtime playlist on Spotify.”

You can use Alexa to help you curate special playlists for upcoming holiday parties, birthdays, and other events you’re hosting. Or, you can make your own music playlists to listen to around the house or when you’re winding down for the evening.