The organization behind iHomeServer—the home-based server product that one DMZ reader describes as the product that “fixes iTunes”—is bringing your personal music library to your Alexa-powered Echo devices. Bizmodeller made a name for itself by significantly expanding the capabilities of iTunes, adding watch folders, DLNA streaming, video conversion, and more with iHomeServer, a product that runs on your always-on home PC. This product is still alive and well and continues to make iTunes more tolerable for many of our readers.
My Media for Alexa brings similar capabilities to the Echo, allowing you to stream your iTunes library or any local folder(s) with music files directly through the Echo devices in your home. You might ask, “but can’t the echo already do that?” Actually…no. No it can’t. Your Echo devices can stream music from your connected music services, and if you’ve taken the time to synchronize your personal music collection with one of the connected services then perhaps you have similar capabilities. But My Media for Alexa allows Alexa to access and stream your music files from your own, locally-hosted library without having to sync or upload to one of the online music services.
Why would you want to do this? Maybe you have music that the supported music services don’t offer. Maybe you don’t want to pay the 30-ish dollars to sync your collection each year. Or maybe you just don’t want to bother with streaming services at all. Now you don’t have to.
Setting It Up
Setting up My Media for Alexa is pretty straightforward. Install the Windows or Mac services on an always-on PC or Mac in your home. Use the comprehensive configuration and dashboard app to select music folders on your computer or network to automatically watch or just link it to your local iTunes library. Indexing your library may take a few minutes depending on how large it is. In our testing, a 20,000 song library took about five minutes to index. You have the ability to review the indexed music from the configuration app.
You’ll need to link to your Amazon account by authenticating with your Amazon credentials. You can also do this from within the configuration app. My Media doesn’t capture these—you’re using Amazon’s own service authentication page to sign in.
To get this all to work on your Echo devices, you’ll need to add the My Media skill in your Alexa app. Install the skill and configure by again signing in to your Amazon account. And that’s it…you’re ready to play!
I Can Name That Tune in—Actually, No…I Can’t Name That Tune
My Media supports most of the usual playback commands you’d expect to play albums, artists, and genres. We noticed in our testing that it does a much better job of properly recognizing and playing albums and genres than anything else. It seems incapable of playing individual songs by name. You can also skip, shuffle, and loop by voice, but since this is a third-party skill, you’ll always need to “Ask My Media to [do whatever]” for this all to work properly.
Asking Alexa to “Open My Media” does work, but it automatically starts playing the first song in your library—which in our case was the theme from Halloween, so…try it at your own risk. For now, we’re going to play it safe. “Alexa, ask My Media to play music by Hans Zimmer.”
A Small Price
My Media for Alexa is licensed through an annual subscription fee. You can try it for free for seven days, but after that you’ll need to purchase a basic, advanced, or premium plan, priced at 5, 10, and 15 dollars annually, respectively. All plans provide access to an unlimited library size with successive tiers offering increased server and shared user access.
For more information on My Media for Alexa, visit the BizModeller site and download the free trial to give it a spin.