While the battle for superiority in the music streaming market is ongoing between Spotify and Apple Music, Amazon's streaming service makes an appealing alternative, with many users choosing to go entirely Amazonian by pairing their subscription with an Alexa-enabled smart device such as an Echo Dot, Echo Show or Echo Studio.
These Amazon devices allow you to control your Amazon Music subscription with voice recognition. That's not to say they won't stream music from other streaming services, but they are tailor-made to function seamlessly with Amazon Music. There are obvious benefits to doing this. For one, you don't have to get off the couch to play or pause your music, or to manage your music library, playlists or preferences.
However, the biggest benefit is lifestyle convenience - you can integrate your music into your broader digital lifestyle, making it available from a central hub where you can also access information from the web, make purchases, and control aspects of your home or work environment at your will and command.
Alexa enabled devices are everywhere
Every year we get introduced to more Alexa-enabled devices. While the majority of these devices aren't made by Amazon - devices like the Sonos One and Bose Home Speaker 500, Amazon's own, most recent Alexa speakers - the Echo Dot (4th Gen) and Amazon Echo Studio - are becoming quite popular, since they feature high-fidelity sound, as well as compact form factors that allow them to compete with well-crafted speakers from leading audio brands.
The Echo Studio for instance, has five speakers that Amazon says can create an immersive 3-dimensional soundscape in your living space by pushing sound in different directions. It can also play Ultra HD music, which is music produced in the highest quality audio format currently available.
These devices also have built-in privacy protections. Privacy has become a non-negotiable demand from users of smart devices, for obvious reasons. The Echo Dot (4th Gen) for example, has a mic that can be switched on and off, and when switched off, it is effectively electronically muted, preventing your device from eavesdropping.
While there is no shortage of Alexa smart speakers out there, the idea is to find one that fits your individual needs. Are you a music purist and the sound quality of your music is of paramount importance? Then you may want to go for the Amazon Echo Studio that supports Ultra HD. Or, are you the sort of music listener who likes to watch music videos while listening? Then the Echo Show (2nd Gen) with its touchscreen may be more up your street.
When you consider these questions and others, finding the right speaker does get a tad trickier. So, be sure to do your homework before you dive in and make your final purchase.
The right Amazon Music subscription
When it comes to Amazon's actual music subscription service, there are two main tiers you should consider: Amazon Music Prime and Amazon Music Unlimited. We discuss these at greater length in a recent update about Amazon Music Unlimited's free trial offer. But as a quick refresher, if you have a subscription to Amazon Prime, you will automatically get access to Amazon Music Prime, which offers you access to 2 million songs and thousands of playlists.
For the real music buffs, Amazon Music Unlimited is the one to go for. It costs AU$11.99 a month, and gives you access to a larger catalogue of songs than Amazon Music Prime - some 75 million or so. You also get access to 7 million songs in high definition audio, something currently unavailable in the Amazon Music Prime subscription tier.
Alexa commands to help you make the most of your subscription
Setting up your Alexa device and securing your Amazon Music subscription are the first steps towards securing your handsfree listening experience. The next step is acquainting yourself with the most useful commands in order to get the best use out of the pairing.
Most people master enough commands to get their music playing via voice recognition. Simple commands like Alexa, play music on <Amazon Music>, Alexa, play/resume <music>, Alexa, stop/pause <music> are commonly known, but many users never extend their Alexa commands vocabulary, mainly because they can't think of what to ask Alexa, or don't know what Alexa can actually do. To fully utilise your Alexa device's full potential, you might want to try some of the following:
Ask Alexa to play music by Album/Title or/Artist
- Alexa, play <the song/track/title/tune> <title/artist or album>
Ask Alexa to shuffle, repeat or loop a song
- Alexa, turn repeat <on/off>
- Alexa, turn shuffle <on/off>
- Alexa, loop my <name of playlist/> playlist
- Alexa, loop <this album/this playlist>
- Alexa, repeat <this song>
- Alexa, play/shuffle <the album/record> <album>
Ask Alexa to follow/unfollow an artist
- Alexa, follow <artist>
- Alexa, unfollow <artist>
Ask Alexa for recommendations
- Hey Alexa, play music like <genre or artist>
- Alexa, help me find a playlist
- Alexa, what should I play?
Ask Alexa to play music for a specific mood or activity
- Alexa, play music for <activity/mood>
Ask Alexa to name that song
- Hey Alexa, what's that song that goes <say lyrics>
Ask Alexa for a date a song/album was released
Alexa, when was this <song/album> released?
Ask Alexa to play something you rarely listen to
- Alexa, play something I haven't heard in a while
Ask Alexa to play music similar to what you're listening to
- Alexa, play more like this/that
- Alexa, play songs similar to <title>
Ask Alexa to add a song to your Amazon Music library
- Alexa, add this song to my library
Ask Alexa to change volume
- Alexa, <change/make/turn the> volume up/down
Ask Alexa to mute/unmute
- Alexa, mute/unmute
Tell Alexa what you like or don't like for future reference
- Alexa, thumbs <up/down>
- Alexa, I <like/don't like> this song
Ask Alexa to play the top trending songs in a particular place or from a particular time period
- Alexa, play the top songs in <city/country/continent>
- Alexa, play the top songs from <time period>
Ask Alexa to restart a song
- Alexa, play this song from the beginning
Ask Alexa to change equalizer settings
- Alexa, increase/decrease the <bass/mid-range/treble>
- Alexa, reset the equalizer
Play songs in Ultra HD (on an Echo Studio)
- Alexa, play the Ultra HD <genre> playlist
- Alexa, play the Best of Ultra HD playlist
There you have it! You're all set to enjoy some blissful handsfree listening. Remember to experiment with your Alexa, because Amazon is constantly updating the AI software and many more commands are likely to become available over time.