Amazon Echo is an incredible piece of home or office automation technology. An autonomous processing unit with integrated Alexa software coupled with a high-quality speaker, Echo (and the smaller Echo Dot) is able to do many things.
One feature that not everyone is aware of is that the Echo can take multimedia content from other sources and reproduce it from the speaker. In this article, I’ll show you how to play YouTube music on your Amazon Echo.
Amazon Echo already has a wide range of integrated music reproduction capabilities that work immediately. Echo can play Amazon Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and many other services.
However, Echo also has the ability to play music from other sources via Bluetooth, including YouTube. Of course, YouTube has other types of audio content other than music like podcasts.
Play music from YouTube on Amazon Echo
Many people like to listen to music on YouTube rather than apps and services specifically designed for music. YouTube is free and has a vast collection of millions of songs and playlists of new artists, traditional shows, superstars and musicians of the past.
If a song or song has ever been recorded, it’s probably available on YouTube. However, YouTube (owned by Google) is a competitor of Amazon’s music services like Amazon Music. For this reason, the Echo does not support native playback of YouTube music.
Due to this limitation, to play music from YouTube, you will need to associate Echo with an external device via Bluetooth. You can use almost any Bluetooth enabled device that has an Internet connection. For the purposes of this walkthrough, I will use my smartphone.
To make it work, you will need a working Amazon Echo or Echo Dot and a Bluetooth-enabled device with Internet connectivity. Here’s how to configure Echo to play music and other content available on YouTube:
- Activate Bluetooth on the connected device.
- Say “Alexa, match the Bluetooth”.
- Follow the instructions to associate Echo to your device.
- Open the YouTube app on your device (or in the device’s web browser) and play as you like.
- The sound should come through Echo’s speaker.
Unfortunately, you can’t control YouTube via Echo in the way you can control Pandora or Spotify or Amazon Music, but you can control the Echo part of the equation.
You can stop playback, pause it, turn it up or down, but that’s all. These commands do not affect the connected device that is streaming YouTube content. That device (in my case my iPhone) continues to work regardless of what Echo does. All you can control is the echo sound reproduction from your device.
Add Skill to Alexa to listen to YouTube
If you are not satisfied with this (I would be), there are other approaches you can take to make things work better. While it is unlikely that Amazon will add direct support for playing YouTube on Echo or Echo Dot, there are third parties that use the Amazon Echo skills toolkit to enable this feature.
The Amazon Skills kit allows developers to create and publish skills for Alexa that users can then install to extend the capabilities of Amazon Echo.
Alexa – YouTube
The most complete and actively developed Alexa skill that enables the playback of YouTube audio streams is called Alexa-YouTube, and during installation, it is a fairly long but well-documented process and works well once completed.
Here is an overview of the process of adding the YouTube ability to your Echo:
- Go to Alexa Console.
- Register as an Amazon developer if you haven’t already. Make sure you answer “No” to the questions, “Think about monetizing apps by charging apps or selling in-app items” and “Think about monetizing apps by displaying ads from Amazon’s mobile ad network or Mobile Associates?”
- Click on the “Create Skill” button.
- Give your skill a name, such as “My Skill on YouTube”.
- Select the default language to match the language used by Echo. It is important that this is an exact match.
- Choose “Custom” as a template and click “Create Skill”.
- Select “Start from scratch” and then click “Choose”.
- In the left menu, click on “JSON Editor”.
- Delete everything in the text box.
- In another browser tab, load the code from GitHub and copy it. This is for the English version; use InteractionModel_fr.json, InteractionModel_it.json, InteractionModel_de.json or InteractionModel_es.json for French, Italian, German or Spanish respectively.
- Paste the code into the JSON editor.
- Click “Save Template” at the top.
- Click on “Interfaces” in the left menu and enable “Audio Player” and “Video App”. Click on “Save Interfaces”.
- Click on “Endpoint” in the menu on the left and select “AWS Lambda ARN”. In “Default Region”, you need to enter the region code for wherever you are. If you are in the EU, use “arn- aws- lambda- eu-west-1- 175548706300- function- YouTube”. If you are in Asia, use “arn- aws- lambda- ap-northeast-1- 175548706300- function- YouTube”. For the United States (east), use “arn- aws- lambda- ap-north-east-1- 175548706300- function- YouTube”, and for the United States (west) use “arn- aws- lambda- us-west -2- 175548706300- function- YouTube ”.
- Click “Save endpoint”
- Click on “Authorizations” at the bottom left.
- Activate “Reading Lists” and “Writing Lists”.
- Click on “Custom” in the menu on the left.
- Click on “Invocation” in the menu on the left.
- If you want to call the skill differently from “youtube”, change it here. Click “Save Template” if you change anything.
- Click on “Build Model”. This will take time, maybe even several minutes. You will be notified upon completion.
- At the top of the editor, click on “Test”. Where it says “The test is disabled for this skill”, change the drop-down menu from “Off” to “Development”.
Only 33 steps later, that’s all! Echo will now respond to voice commands to play YouTube directly as if it were one of Alexa’s built-in features. If your Echo says it can’t find any supported skills in response to a YouTube command, try starting with “Alexa, open YouTube”. This should correctly initialize the flow.
Voice commands YouTube Skill Voice
Alexa-YouTube supports a strong subset of normal voice commands. Here is the basic list of supported commands.
To play a video of a specific song, just name the video. For example, “Alexa, ask YouTube to let me listen to Rocket Man.”
Similarly, for a playlist, “Alexa, ask YouTube to play the All My Pop Favorites playlist”.
For one channel, use “Alexa, ask YouTube to play the VanossGaming channel”.
You can say “shuffle” instead of “play” for channels and playlists.
The standard commands for “next”, “previous”, “restart”, “pause” and “resume” all work.
You can ask which song is playing with “Alexa, ask YouTube what song is playing”.
You can jump forward or back with “Alexa, ask YouTube to skip forward / backward / by [amount of time]”.
If you want to play only one video, of “Alexa, ask YouTube to play a Beatles video”.
You can enable or disable automatic playback with “Alexa, ask YouTube to enable automatic playback / disable automatic playback”.
You can ask how far you are in the video with “Alexa, ask YouTube what the timestamp is?”
If you want to access the integrated “find similar music” feature on YouTube, say “Alexa, ask YouTube to play more like this”.
Keep in mind that occasionally, the Alexa-YouTube ability plays an ad that supports the developer of the skill. It’s a small price to pay for a frankly surprising addition to Alexa’s toolbox.
Alexa music controls
Here is a list of some of the main musical commands you can use with Echo immediately. They all work with integrated music apps and some work with the Alexa-YouTube ability.
Alexa core music controls:
- “Alexa, Shuffle” activates Shuffle mode.
- “Alexa, do you stop mixing? will disable Shuffle mode
- “Alexa Stop” or “Alexa Pause” will interrupt or pause the song.
- “Alexa, play”
- “Alexa, resume.”
- “Alexa plays some music.”
- “Alexa, he plays songs of the nineties.”
- “Alexa, turn up the volume! “
- “Alexa, lower it!”
- “Alexa, stop.”
- “Alexa, continue.”
- “Alexa, skip” will skip the current song.
Controls of the Alexa music service
You can also command Alexa to work with music services, as well as Amazon Prime Music or Music Unlimited. The Spotify commands may require Spotify Premium to work but it is not certain that they could work.
Some commands include:
- “Alexa, listen to the song, the album, the artist.”
- “Alexa, listen to the emotion or the kind of music.”
- “Alexa, reproduce the station name.”
- “Alexa, reproduce the name of the list.”
- “Alexa, create a playlist for Prime.”
- “Alexa, play <song name> from Prime Music.”
- “Play the music of <composer> / <artist> / <band> from Spotify.”
- “Alexa, connect to Spotify.”
- “Alexa, plays the genre of Spotify.”
- “Alexa, show me songs, playlists, genres from Prime Music.”
- “Alexa, who is the lead singer of this band?”
- “Alexa, block explicit songs.”
- “Alexa, stop blocking explicit songs.”
- “Alexa, add song, album, artist to the name of the playlist.”
- “Alexa, create a playlist.”
In conclusion, you can play music from YouTube on Amazon Echo or Echo Dot. You can do it almost immediately with a connected Bluetooth device or you can do it really well by adding a skill to Alexa.
Below are lots of useful articles for your Amazon Echo.