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Alexa can now find the right Amazon Music playlist by having a conversation with you

Alexa can now find the right Amazon Music playlist by having a conversation with you

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Amazon Music is gaining a few new Alexa-powered voice features today. First, users will be able to have a conversation with Alexa to find the ideal playlist for a given situation — parties, the holidays, etc. — through voice. You’ll be able to say “Alexa, help me find a playlist” to kick off the back and forth.

Alexa will ask follow-up questions like whether there’s a particular genre or tempo you’re going for and if the playlist is just for you. The latter is its way of asking if kids are around and if you want to weed out explicit songs. Once you’ve answered those basics, Alexa will play a short preview of playlist suggestions. You can choose to continue into one of those or keep adding criteria in hopes of finding something better. Amazon plans to expand this conversation functionality beyond playlists over the coming weeks:

Coming soon, customers will also be able to ask, “Alexa, recommend some new music” to further help with discovery or simply, “Alexa, what should I play?” By using cues from your previous listening habits, and asking a few simple questions regarding your favorite genres, eras and other preferences, Alexa will be able to anticipate what customers are in the mood to hear, and suggest relevant music, or new releases tailored to them.

To start, these features will be available on Echo devices and the Amazon Music app on iOS and Android, where Alexa is built in. Customers listening through either Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited can ask Alexa for playlist advice starting today.

You don’t have to engage Alexa in conversation, though. In general, Alexa is getting smarter about playing what you actually like on Amazon Music when you simply say “play music.” The songs you hear should be better tuned to your tastes. If you’re following an artist who has just put out a new song, Amazon will likely add that to the queue.

Alexa also now factors in play count when you ask to hear your favorite tracks. And you can say that you like a song or don’t — or even tell it to never play that specific track again — to refine its algorithms. If Amazon wants to compete with Spotify and Apple Music, nailing your musical preferences is pretty critical to that goal.