Two of the biggest music streaming services — Amazon Music and Youtube Music — now offer free versions available for an array of various smart speakers and smart home devices.
While the premium versions of Amazon Music and YouTube Music let users stream from massive libraries of on-demand music and create and share their own playlists, the newly added free tiers for both services are slimmed down by comparison.
Both are more akin to Pandora or Spotify’s free option, which act more like a radio station than a digital music library. Free users will only be able to play music from specific curated playlists or channels, and cannot upload their own music.
Furthermore, each service has its own limitations compared to their premium counterparts. Below, the basics on each service:
Amazon Music free
Supports Alexa smart speakers
It’s ad-supported (meaning you’ll get ads periodically between songs)
YouTube Music free
Supports all Google smart speakers, Google Home devices, as well as third-party speakers with Google Assistant support
But even with those limitations, it’s hard to get mad at getting something that’s free.
How to play Amazon Music for free
Any user with an Alexa-supported device can start playing music with a simple voice command, but since the free version will only play music from playlists and stations, you’ll want to be specific. Here are some examples from Amazon’s official blog post:
“Alexa, play the playlist Pop Culture”
“Alexa, play the Imagine Dragons station”
“Alexa, play 80s music”
“Alexa, play country music”
If you want to spring for the ad-free version with wider device support, a premium Amazon Music subscription costs $11/month for 50 million songs. Amazon Prime subscribers, $18/month or $168/year, get comped a slimmer version of Amazon Music with 2 million songs.
How to listen to YouTube Music for free
You’ll first need to make YouTube Music your default music app. From there:
Open the Google Home app and tap “account”
Go to Settings & Services & Music
Set YouTube Music as your preferred app (follow any on-screen setup instructions as necessary)
Once that’s done, you can start listening to music via “Hey, Google” voice commands to your device. You’ll have to be specific about the genre, mood, or station you want to play since the free version doesn’t allow for specific songs or albums to be played.
If you decide you’d prefer that kind of functionality, the premium version of YouTube Music is available for $14 per month, or if you have a YouTube Red subscription you will already have access to Youtube Music.
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