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“Alexa, play my cheesy 80s music playlist.”
Alexa plays cheese grater sounds.
“Alexa, stop. [In slightly louder voice] Alexa, play my cheesy 80s music playlist”.
Alexa plays cheese grater sounds.
Yes, it’s thunderously annoying when Alexa won’t play your lovingly curated Spotify playlists. If you’re struggling to get your selected sounds playing through Amazon’s speakers, here’s a guide to getting the songs you want through your speaker.
Make sure Spotify is selected as the default music service
The first thing you should do is ensure that Spotify is selected as your default music service. Even if you’ve connected Spotify to your Alexa account, Amazon will automatically default to its own music service first, which might explain why it can’t find your playlists.
To do this, open the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone, press the hamburger menu (three lines) in the top left of the screen and select Settings.
Now scroll down until you find Music under the Preferences menu.
If you’ve not already connected Spotify to Alexa, press the Link New Service button and follow the onscreen instructions.
If you have already linked Spotify, click Default Services under Account Settings, and ensure Spotify is ticked as the Default Music Library, as shown below:
Use the correct voice commands
Alexa can be ridiculously fussy about the wording you use before she will play your Spotify playlists.
The most important thing to note is that you must use the exact name of the playlist you want. Things that are likely to flummox Alexa include punctuation in playlist titles or acronyms (such as NASA).
We’ll come back to how deal with problematically named playlists in a second, but first let’s make sure you’re using the correct command.
To get Alexa to play a Spotify playlist, when Spotify is selected as your default music service, you should say:
“Alexa, play (playlist name) playlist”
If that doesn’t work, or if you have Amazon as your default music service but want to listen to a Spotify playlist, try the following:
“Alexa, on Spotify listen to the (playlist name) playlist”
If you’re finding that Spotify is playing a random public playlist of the same name as one you have saved in your playlist Library, try adding the magic word “my”. So, for example:
“Alexa, play my greatest hits playlist”
By the way, you know you can shuffle playlists, right? To do that, just use the following command:
“Alexa, shuffle (playlist name) playlist”
How to deal with problematic playlist names
There are some Spotify playlists that Alexa seemingly refuses to play, no matter how much you re-word the commands or raise your voice at her. These, as mentioned above, are normally those playlists that contain punctuation, acronyms or other words that are difficult to pronounce. The easiest way to deal with this is to rename the playlist from within Spotify.
One thing to note here is that you can only edit the names of playlists that you’ve created yourself. If you’re merely following someone else’s playlist, you won’t be able to change its name, but we’ll show you how to deal with those presently.
To edit the name of a playlist you built yourself from within the mobile app, click on the relevant playlist, hit the three dots button in the top right of the screen and click Edit Playlist. Now you can click on the name of the playlist and edit its title.
Obviously avoid using punctuation, acronyms, initialisms (ie. BBC), or proper nouns that are difficult to pronounce. If you’re building a playlist of your favourite Michael Kiwanuka hits, for instance, you might be better off calling it something such as “Michael hits” to avoid stumbles over his surname.
What about those playlists that you’re following, whose names you cannot edit? I follow a playlist called “A Song for Guy (BBC 6 Music)” which Alexa refuses to play, probably because of those awkward brackets.
Annoyingly, Spotify has made it much harder to copy other people’s playlists in recent updates, but there is a way to do it using the Windows/Mac Spotify apps.
First, create a new playlist with an easy to pronounce name. Then go to the playlist you want to copy, click on the first track and press Ctrl + A (Windows) or Command + A (Mac) to select all the tracks in that playlist. Then drag the tracks from the current playlist to the name of the new one on the left-hand side of the screen.
Your copied playlist won’t get any new songs added to the original, followed playlist, but it’s the best we can do!
Note that Alexa might not be able to open your new playlist immediately, because it seems to take time for Alexa to refresh your library of playlists. If you want to force it to find the new playlist immediately, try unlinking your Spotify in the Alexa app and then re-linking it (as described above). This should refresh the list of available playlists.
If you’ve got any further tips for getting Alexa to play the correct Spotify playlist, feel free to share them on comments below.
For more general advice on getting Alexa to play exactly the music you want, read this excellent piece from my colleague Tim Danton.