How to make Amazon Echo default to Spotify or Pandora

The Amazon Echo lights up when it recognizes you are making a request.
It's easier than ever to get the Amazon Echo to play tracks from Spotify Premium.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Barking out a song request at my Amazon Echo smart speaker, then hearing the track magically start playing, makes me feel like I’m living in the future.

Unfortunately, that feeling evaporates when the song isn’t part of the relatively skimpy Amazon Prime Music catalog. If it’s not there, Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa queues up an annoying 30-second sample — and that makes me realize I’m living in the very buggy present.

Luckily, you can fix that. Here’s how to make Amazon Echo default to Spotify so you don’t get stuck with those annoying song and album previews.

iHeartRadio hearts Apple TV with new streaming app


Do you really heart radio?
Do you really heart radio?
Photo: iHeartMedia

If you want to listen to the same corporate pop music as you do on your terrestrial radio, you can do so from the comfort of your couch.

iHeartRadio’s streaming app can now also reside on your Apple TV, assuming you have one of the newer fourth-generation set-top boxes from Apple.

The new Apple TV app will give you all the main elements of the iOS app, including Live Stations, Custom Stations based on songs or artists, and podcasts from the behemoth media network.

As streaming surges, record stores turn the indie knob up to 11

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Video might have killed the radio star, but streaming hasn't killed the record store. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Stroll into your local record store and you won’t find the dusty-floored wasteland of empty bins you might imagine. Chances are you’ll see something that’s more vibrant, relevant and vital than before.

Like the nerdy know-it-alls at specialty wine stores and comic book shops, today’s typical employee at an indie record store is still a tastemaking wizard — just turned up to 11. Staff picks bear the unerring zeal of the true believer, and staffers are more focused on uncovering stuff that you’ll never find on a Walmart CD shelf.

“Since there’s been a turn to Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes, we sell way more vinyl,” said Jim Haynes, assistant manager at San Francisco’s Aquarius Records. “We’re at about 75 percent vinyl to 20 percent CD and a smattering of cassettes. People are turning to an even more seemingly obsolete medium.”

Predictions of the end of physical media are as played-out as those reports about the death of rock ‘n’ roll, with everyone and their mother proclaiming that Spotify and other streaming services have killed the local record store. That fear-mongering sounds smart and might even contain a kernel of truth, but the reality is much different.