Dancing - Smart speaker

With smart speakers and smart displays, controlling music using your voice is easy and convenient. It’s great during parties, or just getting ready in the morning. With the help of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri, you can easily control what you play without having to physically interact with your device.

In this article, I’ll discuss all the different ways to control music using your voice. I’ll start with a discussion on the free and paid streaming services for smart speakers, then I’ll talk about the voice commands to play songs and playlists. Finally, I’ll end with some tips and tricks for beginners. 

Choosing and connecting streaming services 

The music you play comes from one of many streaming services. Smart speakers and displays connect to a streaming service that you can set as your default. There are free and paid streaming services that will connect to smart speakers and displays. Free services typically come with ads and limited features. Paid streaming services offer a more robust offering including the ability to play specific songs on command. 

No matter which streaming service you choose, you will need to connect it to your smart speaker. This is done inside the smart speaker app. But what streaming service should you use? Let’s briefly look at some of the popular options. 

YouTube Music

YouTube Music offers free streaming options for smart speakers and displays. It has access to a large library of music without requiring any payment. These services are great for casual music listeners who don’t want to pay for a subscription. However, the free version typically includes ads and does not allow for offline listening or unlimited skips. Additionally, the music quality may be lower than paid versions. However, it offers a comprehensive selection of music for free. 

YouTube Music offers a unique experience, allowing you to not only listen to music but also watch music videos and live performances on smart displays. It also offers a large selection of songs and personalized recommendations.

Amazon Prime Music

Amazon Prime Music is a streaming service that is included with an Amazon Prime subscription. It offers access to a large library of songs, albums, and playlists that can be streamed on-demand without ads. Prime Music has over 2 million songs with a large selection of curated playlists. These include genre-based playlists, mood-based playlists, and playlists created by artists and celebrities.

Amazon Prime Music is a great option for those who are already subscribed to Amazon Prime and are looking for an additional streaming service at no extra cost. While it may not have as many songs as some other popular music streaming services, it still offers a wide variety of music and features that make it a worthwhile option.


Spotify offers free and paid music streaming. The free service is supported by ads that play between songs. With the free service, you can access a large library of songs, albums, and playlists on their smart speaker or display. You also get access to personalized playlists which are curated based on your listening habits.

One of the main limitations of Spotify’s free service is that it only allows for a limited number of skips per hour. That means you don’t get unlimited on-demand playback of specific songs or albums. Still, it’s a great option for those who are looking to listen to music without having to pay a monthly subscription fee. It offers access to a vast library of music, personalized playlists, and gives you the ability to discover new music based on the tracks you listen to.

Smart display - Smart speaker

Using wake words with smart speakers

Once your streaming service is connected to your smart speaker or smart display, it’s ready for voice control. To play music using your voice, you need to activate the voice assistant by saying a wake word. For Amazon Echo speakers and Echo Show Smart Displays, the wake word is “Alexa”. Google Home speakers and Nest Smart Displays use “Hey Google,” as the wake word. Finally, Apple HomePod speakers use “Hey Siri”.

The best way to think of a smart speaker is a virtual assistant ready to help. Imagine it as a deejay on call. Once the assistant is activated by the wake word, give it commands to play a specific song, artist, album, or playlist. 

Smart speaker

Playing music using your voice

After you’ve said the wake word, you’re ready to play music. Here you have a lot of options. One of them is to play a specific song. For example with an Amazon Echo speaker, say, “Alexa, play Hotel California”. If the song is popular, you may not need to mention the artist. However, if the wrong song plays, you just need to be more specific. In this case, say, “Alexa play Hotel California by the Eagles”.

Voice control can also be used to play playlists. For example, if you’re having a dinner party, say, “Hey Google, play a dinner party playlist”. Another option is to play songs by a specific artist or group. For example, with an Apple HomePod, you can say, “Siri, play music by Bob Marley”.

Using voice to play additional content

Outside of music, voice commands can also be used to play other types of content. For example, you can use it to listen to your local talk radio station in the morning as you get ready. Later that evening as you cook dinner, ask your smart speaker to play your favorite podcast. Smart speakers and displays can also be used to answer questions. For example, you can ask your smart display to show the 10-day forecast as you make coffee in the morning.

Smart Speaker - Nest Mini

Playing music on multiple speakers through voice

If you have multiple smart speakers in different rooms, group them together inside the app. Then, group and connect the smart speakers in your bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen together to create routines. For examples, in the morning while you shower, ask your smart speaker to play music on the morning routine group. As you move from the bathroom, to the bedroom, and kitchen, the song will play everywhere. This is also great for house parties and it can all be done by a simple voice command.

Google Nest Smart speaker

Control music and more with your voice

With smart speakers and displays, controlling music with your voice is easy. It all starts with a streaming service. Thankfully, there are free and paid options available. From there, you can choose specific songs, artists, genres and playlists. Voice control also extends to playing podcasts, radio and answering random questions depending on what you’re in the more for!

If you want to learn more about how to choose a smart display, make sure to read this buying guide to help you decide which one is right for you.

Andy Baryer
Andy Baryer aka “Handy Andy” is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, and DIY/how-to content creator. Known as the handyman of tech, Andy enjoys fixing poor wireless networks, building smart homes, and cooking with the latest kitchen gadgets. He’s a competitive whistler, a budding woodworker, and loves gardening in his home-built smart garden.