There are some cool things you can do with Alexa when it comes to TV and music. Many, most people aren’t even aware of. In this section, we’ll go over the basics and then get into some of the more advanced entertainment capabilities of Alexa. Let’s check it out...
With her roots as a smart speaker, it’s only natural that you can do some amazing things with music on your Alexa enabled devices.
In this section, we’ll go over some of those said amazing things that you might not know about yet.
Currently, Alexa supports a handful of music and informational content services natively and a few more by enabling skills. The main ones are:- Amazon Prime Music
- Amazon Music Unlimited
Some of the other services you can control by installing the skill are:- SiriusXM
- Gimme (Heavy Metal)
For all of these external services, you will need to create an account with the provider and then link it to the Alexa app.
To accomplish that go into the Alexa app and select “Settings” >> “Music & Media” >> and select the music service you want to set up.
If you are connecting to a service via a skill then go to “Music, Videos, & Books >> Scroll down under “Music” >> and select the music skill you want to enable. Alternately you can go to the Alexa skills page, search for the music skill you want to install and enable and link it from there.
If you want to change your default music service from Amazon over to something else you can currently change your music library to Spotify (if you have a premium account). You can also change your default station service to Pandora or iHeartRadio.
To do this go into the Alexa app and select “Settings” >> “Music & Media” >> “Choose default music services” >> select your default music service.
Amazon Prime & Music Unlimited
Amazon has two different music services. First, Amazon Prime Music which comes as part of the bundle of awesomeness that is Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime gives you 2-day shipping, selected Kindle books, Prime Movies (kind of like Netflix), Prime Music, and a few other goodies for a monthly or yearly fee.
Prime Music includes curated playlists, ad-free stations, and millions of free songs.
You can also download and listen offline which is convenient if you’re going on a long trip and or you don’t want to pay for data overages with your carrier.
Prime Unlimited is a paid subscription that unlocks tens of millions of more songs and thousands of really cool playlists.
You have a few options here. You can sign up for an Echo only account for a reduced price, or you can sign up for a single plan which will allow one user to play music from Amazon Music unlimited on one device at a time. Devices include your Alexa enabled device, smartphones, tablets, computers, and Fire TV.
You can also sign up for a more expensive family plan that will allow up to 6 family members access to music on any device.
You can create playlists inside the Amazon music app and then play them on your Echo device.
It’s a bit tricky so let me explain how to do it in detail.
First, go inside of your Amazon Music app and select “My Music” on the bottom of the screen >> select “Create New Playlist” >> Give it a name, select “Save.”
Now you need to go search for music.
Click on search and find some songs that you want to add to your playlist. When you see a song you like, click on the three dots and select “Add to playlist” and select the playlist you want to add it to.
You now have your playlist set up. This is where it gets tricky.
Let’s say that you set up a playlist called “Cleaning the house.” If you say “Alexa play cleaning the house” she will pull up the “Cleaning the house” playlist from Amazon Music, not the custom playlist you created.
What you need to say instead is “Alexa play cleaning the house from my music.” At that point, she will find the correct playlist, and you can happily tidy up the home.
Streaming Everything (Youtube, Apple Music, etc.)
If you don’t want to use services that are currently available for Alexa, there is a workaround that will allow you play music from any source that is available for your smartphone.
Just say “Alexa connect to phone” and now your Echo will act just like a Bluetooth speaker. This will allow you to play anything. So if you’re watching a Youtube video or listening to Apple Music, it will now be broadcast over your Echo speaker.
You also have Bluetooth controls with Alexa so you can say “Next, Previous, Pause, etc.”
Multi-room audio allows you to play a song or station throughout the entire house on your supported Echo devices.
To set up multi-room audio go into the Alexa app and select “Settings” >> “Multi-Room Music” >> “Add Group” >> “Amazon Multi-Room Music Group” >> Select a name >> “Next” >> choose the devices you want to group>> “Save.”
This will now create a group, and you can say something like “Alexa play the Beatles everywhere” and “I Am The Walrus” will play on all your Echo devices.
As a side note, you can also send a song from one Echo to another. So you can say “Alexa play [song name] on the living room Echo,” and it will just play on that device.
A few things to be aware of here.
First, if you have a Bluetooth speaker hooked up to your Echo device, it will not work. It will disconnect from Bluetooth and only play music on the native Echo speaker. If you want better sound, you will need to plug your speaker into the aux cable of your supported Echo devices.
Second, multi-room audio does not currently work on the Echo tap, Fire TV, or Fire tablets. We might see support in the future, but it isn’t available right now.
Finally, many streaming services are available for multi-room audio like Spotify, Pandora, and TuneIn but some are not. You also can’t currently pull up an Audible book in multi-room mode.
Connecting To Bluetooth Speakers
You can connect your Echo to any Bluetooth enabled speaker that you choose. This comes in handy if you have an Echo Dot and are looking for better audio quality.
It’s important to note here that multi-room audio doesn’t support Bluetooth at the moment so if you want to listen to music all throughout the house, you will need to plug your speaker into the aux port on your Echo. Keep in mind that not all Echos have an aux port built in, the original Echo 1st generation for example.
There are many different speakers that you can hook up to your Alexa device but none are more popular than Sonos. There are a few reasons for this.
First, Sonos speakers sound absolutely fantastic! Not only do you get top-notch hardware, but it also runs over Wifi instead of Bluetooth which allows for better sound quality.
Second, because it runs over Wifi, the range is much broader. While there are super long-range Bluetooth devices, it typically tops out at 33 feet from the music source. Wifi, on the other hand, can run anywhere that has a wifi signal. If you have a wifi booster or a second router setup you can run it anywhere in your home or business that you choose.
Finally, Sonos wifi speakers can run multi-room audio where Bluetooth speakers do not.
Even if you have a Bluetooth speaker wirelessly connected directly to your Echo, which supports multi-room audio itself, your Bluetooth speaker will disconnect when you try to open a song in multiple rooms.
Sonos Connection Options
You can't connect all Sonos speakers to your Alexa devices easily. The Play 1 and the Play 3 do not have an aux cable input so you can’t directly link it to your Echo.
To use these speakers, you will need to either use the Sonos app (not as good) or purchase a Sonos Connect (expensive) to get them to work with your Alexa enabled device. There is one other way which we’ll talk about in a second.
The Play 5 is your best option for connecting with Alexa because it has a direct aux port that you can hook your Echo up to. It’s also Sonos top of the line speaker.
If you connect your Echo up to a Play 5, you can also control any other Sonos speaker through your Echo if they are in the same speaker group.
Your final option is to purchase a Sonos One which has Alexa built right in.
The upside to the Sonos One is that it is a considerable upgrade in the sound department over anything that the Amazon Echo line has to offer. You can also control the rest of the Sonos speakers you might have like the Play 1 and Play 3 that don’t have an aux port.
The downside is that it is not a fully functioning Alexa device. There are some features not available in the Sonos one. For example, you can't set it to be part of a multi-room group with other Echos.
One of the most exciting features of Alexa is her ability to control your television. While not a complete replacement for your remote (yet) you can get pretty close to not caring if TV control gets lost in the couch cushions.
There are several different ways that control your TV with your voice and an Echo. Let’s take a look…
Fire TV & Alexa
Alexa is built right into the Fire TV. With the remote, you can press the speaker button and navigate through your movies, music, and games.
To me, the more exciting setup is having an Amazon Echo connected to your Fire TV. This way you can say things like “Alexa open the Twilight Zone on Hulu” and without a remote control, you have just crossed over into…. The Twilight Zone!
Anyhow, you can also pull up and search for movies using Alexa commands. If you know the name of the movie or TV show, you can say “Alexa open [movie/show name]. If you are looking for a specific genre, you can say “Alexa search for [action/comedies/etc.]” You can also search for specific actors.
To connect your Echo to your Fire TV open the Alexa app and select “Music, Video, & Books” >> “fireTV” >> “Link Your Alexa Device” >> Select your Fire TV and tap “Continue” >> Select the Alexa device(s) you want to link and tap “Link Devices”.
Alexa Enabled Television Sets
Alexa is also pre-installed on some Televisions.
Along with all the standard Alexa Fire TV commands, with these TV’s you can control the volume, channel, and input with your voice.
It’s also a bit easier to turn it on and off and control playback of your movies and television shows.
The Harmony hub allows you to control many TV and smart home functions with Alexa.
The most basic commands are “Alexa turn on/off the TV” and “Alexa turn up/down the volume.” The harmony hub comes with an IR blaster so you can get these functions to work on practically any television in existence.
You can also connect the Harmony hub to many Cable and Satellite TV boxes and control things like changing the Channel by saying “Alexa change it to channel 2” or “Alexa change it to ESPN.”
If you’re a cord cutter, the Harmony Hub also integrates with Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV.
When you set up “Sequences” inside the Harmony app, you can get your Echo to open any app and complete any function that you want.
For example, you could create a command called “Open Youtube.”
Since Youtube is not natively supported on Fire TV, if you had an Apple TV or Roku, you could have your Harmony hub change the input to Roku/Apple TV, and it would sequence over to the Youtube app.
The Harmony Hub is also a smart home controller. You can create routines that include your entertainment system.
For example, you could set up a video game routine that would change the input of your television to the correct setting, turn on your Xbox/Playstation/Nintendo, shut your blinds, and turn all your lights green (colored smart lights and smart shades required).