How to request music "correctly"?

alexa
voice-control

#1

Now that my Echo devices are capable of playing music directly from my Plex Media Server, I would love to be able to use it easily. Alas, what I perceive as simple requests typically result in apparent arguments between me and the Alexa/Plex interface. For example, I want to play the song "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group. If I say, "Alexa ask Plex to play Frankenstein" my Echo Dot replies that it cannot show movies and the Echo Show asks which Frankenstein movie I want to watch (I presume it is going to send it to my Roku, which was running the Plex App at the time.) I try to cancel and somehow end up being insulted, "Perhaps you should actually get off your couch and go to a movie" (or something like that). I eventually get the command canceled and try again with, "Alexa ask Plex to play "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group" and once again, I'm told the song cannot be found, but maybe I'd like a movie. I finally manage to cancel THAT command and try again with, "Alexa ask Plex to play Edgar Winter Group's song "Frankenstein"" and I'm told that there is nothing named "Edgar Winter Group." Cancel. Final attempt, "Alexa ask Plex to play music by the Edgar Winder Group" and the first song from "They Only Come Out At Night" starts playing. A few songs later, Frankenstein plays -- more than 30 minutes after I started trying to get the song to play. (Yeah, it was raining and I had too much free time that day. ;))

I thought that the title might be a problem, so I tried one that I know to be unique in my collection, "Alexa ask Plex to play 'Bohemian Rhapsody'." Nope. Plex cannot find the song. But once again, asking for music by Queen works and 'Bohemian Rhapsody" eventually plays. So I seem to only be able to ask Alexa to play by artist, not by song (or playlist, which I also tried.)

So, since I obviously cannot figure out the RIGHT way to make a simple request for a song by title, I'm asking for help. Anyone?


#2

I’ve been in the same boat. She keeps offering to play music by groups on tour instead.


#3

I get the same, Alexa will start any for movie for me, but not play music… frustrating isn’t …


#4

Please provide the exact wording you are using. If Alexa does not find the media, try to be more explicit on the media type.

“Alexa, play the song [insert song title here]”
“Alexa, play the album [insert album title here]”

Keep in mind Alexa cannot do complex searches.

“Alexa, play X by artist Y” will not work.

edit - Ok, this last one might get something to play, but it will not search for the 2 criteria you provided so the result may not be what you expect.


#5

The other night, I tried these commands. All of them seemed to work (in that Alex didn’t complain of make an error sound) but only the very last two produced any music playing (on the echo):

  • “Alexa ask Plex to play music by Dean Martin”
  • “Alexa ask Plex to play music by Led Zeppelin”
  • “Alexa ask Plex to play music by Aerosmith”
  • “Alexa ask Plex to play music by Stan Richardson”
  • “Alexa ask Plex to play music by The Who”
  • “Alexa play music by the Who from Plex”
  • “Alexa play music from Plex”

All of the commands produced an OK from Alexa, and then silence except for the last command, which produced something like “OK, playing Library Radio from Plex” and then music from my Plex server.

Interestingly, I have had success with the requests for music by The Who and by Stan Richardson on prior occasions, but not a couple nights ago. I have NEVER had success with a request for music by title, though the Alexa app on my phone shows that the correct title WAS recognized (e.g. Bohemian Rhapsody). And of course, some way to distinguish between requesting movies and music would be helpful, too, since they may have the same title (e.g. Frankenstein)

I don’t mind being told my command isn’t understood or that the music isn’t found, but implying the command worked OK and then remaining silent is, well, sub-optimal. :slight_smile: Telling me I should get off my sofa is just plain insulting – especially since I’m typically walking by the echo when I make my request!


#6

Does Plex log commands received from Alexa? If so, where do I find them (and/or enable them if this isn’t done by default)? If not, perhaps an option for such logging might be helpful?

I can use the Alexa app on my phone to see the text Alexa recognized, but I have no idea what is actually being sent to Plex, so it is difficult to train myself to use the commands that will work best. Hopefully, seeing what Plex receives and how it responds will help me learn. If the Plex developers want to see the log, it might help them, too!


#7

There are no logs directly from Alexa. Your PMS logs will show what it is searching for to see if what Alexa heard and what PMS heard are the same thing.

If you get an OK from Alexa, but nothing plays, that could be a network issue. The Plex skill is able to send the command to your device to play, but we don’t get back a success/failed message so we can’t respond when ti doesn’t work. Alexa only responds with an error if PMS sends the error or it receives an invalid command.

If you can PM your email address, I can check with the devs if any errors were logged by our skill.