If you’ve got a Google Home or Chromecast-enabled smart speaker, you’ll likely be wondering how to use it for listening to music. Those of you with a music streaming subscription such as Spotify Premium or YouTube Premium can easily link your accounts and begin listening to any song you like.
However, if you don’t fancy subscribing just yet, you can still listen to some great music on your speaker using the apps and mentioned below.
If you like long music mixes, Soundcloud is the place to go. They have everything from reggae to dance music and even lots of chat shows and podcasts waiting to be heard.
Whilst Soundcloud has introduced a paid plan in the last few years, there is still a huge library of tracks that can be played without subscribing and you can cast them to your Google Home speaker.
Another app for streaming mixes is the up-and-coming Mixcloud. The concept is similar to SoundCloud, however, it is purely longer music mixes and radio shows. There’s a discover tab for finding trending music or you can search by category.
Mixcloud fully supports casting to your Chromecast-enabled speaker or a Chromecast Audio.
If there are artists you like, you can subscribe to them directly via Mixcloud and it tends to be much cheaper than a streaming service subscription. This unlocks a few extra features such as offline listening and rewinding, however, when these features aren’t necessary when casting over Wi-Fi.
You can still listen to Spotify on your Google Home speaker without subscribing to their premium service. Instead, you can create a free account and link it to your Google Home app.
This will still give you access to their entire library of music, however, you will be limited to playing songs on shuffle and only 6 skips per hour. There will also be ads every 30 minutes which cannot be skipped.
One of the great advantages of using this method is that you’ll have full voice control of choosing which artists, playlists, or genres to play and skipping tracks too.
There are plenty of ways you can listen to podcasts for free on your Google Home speakers. I’ve already mentioned both Spotify and Soundcloud which have plenty of Podcasts to choose from, but you can also download a dedicated podcast app.
My go-to choice of podcast app is Podcast Addict which supports casting and also has lots of settings for automatically downloading new episodes to your phone, how long to store them for, how many episodes to keep, etc.
Did you know your Google Home can natively access any digital radio station simply by asking it? Just say something like, “Hey Google, Play Heart FM” or “Hey Google, Play Radio 1” to begin the stream.
You can choose from the entire range of DAB radio stations which can be found here.
At the moment, Google can only play live radio, however, the next point below shows how you can listen to previous broadcasts.
BBC Sounds is one of the best Chromecast-enabled radio apps available in the UK. Using this app, you can access any radio show from any BBC radio station over the last 30 days.
With such a broad range of stations, you can find everything from political shows, panel shows, and almost any music genre. There’s also a ton of podcasts and classic broadcasts to choose from.
Google Home – Cast Phone Audio
There are some apps that allow you to listen to music on your phone, but don’t allow you to cast the audio to a smart speaker. I expect this is to do with their rights to the music.
Some examples include Capital FM and Global Player, both of these apps have libraries of old radio stations and several curated playlists with the latest music, all free of charge.
To get around this, you can cast your phone’s audio to your speaker. Simply head to the Google Home app and select the speaker you’re trying to play music on. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a button with ‘Cast phone audio’, this will play everything from your phone through the speaker, no matter which app you’re on.
Band Camp is an app that allows artists and labels to upload their music and set a price for it. There’s a huge selection of artists that have set their prices to zero as a form of self-promotion. You won’t find any well-known artists offering free music, but you can certainly find some great newbies.
However, Band Camp doesn’t make it super easy to find them. You’ll need to add a custom genre to find tracks labelled as ‘free’. To do this, go to the discover tab, select ‘view more’ to see all tags, and then scroll across to ‘add custom genre’ where you can create a genre called ‘free’.
The app fully supports casting to Google Home and doesn’t require any kind of log-in if you’re only listening to free music.
Hi-Fi Cast is a media player that can stream music stored on your phone or media server to a Google Home speaker on your Wi-Fi network.
The app can stream MP3, AAC, FLAC, and WAV files to any Chromecast device or DNLA media player. I’m only sharing the app, getting hold of the free music to stream is up to you and I’m sure there are plenty of sites across the internet that can provide tips for this.
There are several other apps that offer similar functionality including VLC Player.
Youtube and VLC Player
To use YouTube natively on a Google Home speaker, you’ll need to have the YouTube music app and a YouTube Premium subscription. Without this, you can only cast to devices with a screen.
However, there are some workarounds that allow you to play the audio from any YouTube video on a Google Home speaker. My personal favourite is by using the VLC app.
- Download and install the VLC app.
- Open the video you want to cast in the YouTube app and allow the ads to play.
- Tap the share button below the video and choose ‘Play with VLC’.
- Once it opens in the VLC app, tap the cast icon to play it on your Google Home speaker.
If you want to find out more hacks, see my full guide featuring four ways to cast YouTube to Google Home.
In case you weren’t aware, Google Home and Google Nest speakers also have Bluetooth built-in. This means you can connect your phone or laptop and stream any audio you have stored on these devices.
This opens up the possibility of downloading your own music and Podcasts, recording your own music, or even playing a CD through your laptop if you still have any lying around.