You can now finally use Sonos Voice Control with Spotify tunes – here’s how

Audio brand Sonos is expanding the reach of its Voice Control software to now support Spotify, allowing users to verbally command the streaming service.

All you have to do to control the app, according to the company, is to say the words “Hey Sonos, play Spotify” into one of the brand’s supported speakers. That’s literally it. Doing so will play one of your Spotify playlists at random. If you want the software to play a specific playlist, you’ll have to mention it by name, like “Discover Weekly,” for example. The feature does extend beyond just being a glorified play button, as it can also be used to help manage your library. 

You can instruct Sonos to add certain songs to a playlist. It can also like or dislike tracks for you with the right command. Telling it “Hey Sonos, I like this song” will make the AI save that piece of music into your account’s 'Liked Songs.' 

Additionally, Voice Control can play specific genres or subgenres of music, be it jazz or classic alternative from the 1990s. You don’t have to be super specific; Spotify’s algorithm has a good understanding of what people are looking for.

Security and availability

It’s worth mentioning commands are processed locally on your Sonos speaker to ensure “fast response times and easy follow-ups”. The company also states no audio – be it from your voice or the surrounding environment – will be saved on any cloud server or listened to by some random third-party. 

Now, there are two ways to connect a Sonos speaker to Spotify. You can either manually choose Spotify to be the default source or make the platform be the most prominent music service played through the speaker. Users won’t have to login or make any changes to the settings.

It’s unknown if Voice Control will learn your listening habits. That is, if a Sonos device notices you frequently access Spotify, will it automatically adjust music sources? 

Spotify’s new support on Sonos Voice Control is available right now to both Premium subscribers as well as free users. Simply download the latest patch on your devices.

While we have you, check out TechRadar's roundup of the best soundbars for 2024. Spoiler alert: Sonos makes an appearance on the list.

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YouTube Music’s web app now gives you offline downloads for travel tunes

YouTube Music’s browser app is giving Premium subscribers the ability to download songs for offline listening.

Details of this upcoming change originate from a Reddit user who posted multiple screenshots of the altered service. There’s not much to go off at the moment. The images show there will be a new blue Download button in between Save to Library and the three-dot expandable menu above an album’s tracklist. Clicking it causes a Downloading window to pop up in the bottom left-hand corner denoting progress. 

Downloads on Web App from r/YoutubeMusic

Once finished, you can head on over to the new Downloads tab on the Library page to find the song. A line of text underneath states music will stay on your device indefinitely so long as it connects to the internet “once every 30 days.” 9To5Google in their report states the feature will have filters allowing users to sort content by “Playlists, Podcasts, Songs, and Albums.”

Limited roll out

It’s important to mention that offline downloading may only be available to a handful of people. We happened to be one of the lucky few to have received the update on our YouTube Premium subscription (YouTube hasn't made any official announcement). If you look closely at our screenshot, the Download button is actually white instead of blue.

YouTube Premium with Offline downloading

(Image credit: Future)

Some online reports claim people are unable to download podcasts. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case because we were able to grab a couple of episodes. All you have to do is click the three-dot menu to the right of the play button and select Download. The podcast will show up in your Library soon after. This is a big deal as Google Podcasts will be shutting down this April in the United States, forcing listeners over to YouTube Music. It looks like the platform is preparing for the inevitable flood of new people migrating over.

Downloading podcast off YouTube Music

(Image credit: Future)

It’s unknown when this feature will officially roll out, although judging by its recent appearance, a release may be happening soon. YouTube Music users seem to be looking forward to getting the patch. On another Reddit post talking about the update, you’ll see multiple comments talking about how excited they are that offline downloading is just over the horizon.

In our opinion, you can't listen to music without a good pair of headphones. For recommendations, check out TechRadar's list of the best headphones for 2024.

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Duolingo’s new Music platform will teach you the basics of playing tunes

It’s been seven long months since the rumors first cropped up but Duolingo has finally released Music courses to its education platform.

Duolingo Music, as it’s called, will teach you the basics of playing music through the help of a digital keyboard on your iPhone. You don’t need to own an instrument. The lessons teach the names of each individual note and where they’re “located on a piano”. From there, Duolingo will show you how to read music and then “translate what you or hear” into songs. It'll eventually all coalesce into you learning how to play a full song.  The courses will even take the time to “train your ear” so you can distinguish specific notes and tell whether they’re high-pitched or low. 

As you can see, these classes get pretty involved. The primary goal of Duolingo Music is to establish a good foundation for students from which they can grow into more experienced musicians.

Back to School

We asked Karen Chow, the Teaching/Curriculum Expert at Duolingo who created the courses, what was the thought process behind everything. She told us the company “wanted to focus on teaching music literacy in a fun and engaging way.” Chow points out that other “foundations” teach music in a really “boring, dry fashion” so they aimed to do the opposite.

At the beginning of development, Duolingo identified the major tenets for their classes from the obvious, like playing instruments, to ear training. Once it narrowed things down, the company created lessons based on those tents

Duolingo states there are “hundreds of bite-sized lessons” available with many “interactive exercises”. These aim to teach music incrementally and not overload students with a flood of information. Some of the exercises include completing a music sequence and pairing up notes to audio played on a piano. Duolingo states it believes interactivity is vital to learning as it keeps people focused and engaged. All this content is shown in the platform’s signature brightly colored, bubbly UI.

Duolingo Math lessons

(Image credit: Duolingo)

In addition to the music classes, Duolingo Math is getting an update where users can learn “real-world math skills from calculating tips to identifying patterns”. The latter, according to a company representative, involves helping people understand the logic behind math. Plus, there will be courses to “sharpen [your] mental math” abilities, allowing you to calculate in your head without needing to whip out the calculator app.


Duolingo Music will be available exclusively to “iOS devices in English and Spanish” later this autumn. Users will receive in-app notifications letting them know the update is ready for download. There are plans to expand Duolingo Music to Android users and other languages, too. However, the representative couldn't give us an exact date when this second patch will roll out. Hopefully, it's very soon.

Be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best online classes sites for 2023 if you’re interested in picking up some new skills. 

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Meta’s new music AI could change how you craft soundtracks and tunes

The hills are alive with the sound of AI-generated music as Meta launches its new language learning model (LLM): the aptly named MusicGen.

Developed by the company’s internal Audiocraft team, MusicGen is like a musical version of ChatGPT. You enter a brief text description of the type of music you want to hear, click Generate, and in a short amount of time, the AI creates a 12-second long track according to your instructions. For example, someone can tell MusicGen to generate a “lofi slow BPM electro chill [song] with organic samples” and sure enough, the audio sounds like something you’d hear on YouTube’s Lofi Girl radio. 

It is possible to “steer” MusicGen by uploading your own song so the AI has a better sense of structure. One of the developers for the LLM, Felix Kreuk, posted some samples of what this sounds like on his Twitter profile. As an example, MusicGen can take Sebastian Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor then add some drum beats and synths straight out of the 1980s to produce a more upbeat version of the piece.

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MusicGen is currently available to the public on Meta’s Hugging Face website for everybody to try out. Do be aware that, unlike Google's own AI music generator MusicLM, Meta's model can't do vocals, only instrumentals. This is probably for the best as MusicLM vocals sound a lot like Simlish. No one will be able to understand a single thing.

To the musicians out there, you don’t have to worry about losing your careers. The AI is decent at making simple, short melodies, but not much else. In our opinion, the quality isn’t on the same level as something made with human ingenuity. Some of the songs can get pretty repetitive as MusicGen cycles through the same progressions multiple times. This tool can be useful for creating plain background audio for videos or presentations, but nothing truly engaging. The next pop hit won’t be AI-generated – at least not yet

Act fast

If you are interested in trying out MusicGen, we recommend acting fast. First of all, the Hugging Face website is unstable. We had a ton of AI-generated songs ready to share. However, the web page crashed while working on this piece severing our connection to the tracks. We suspect the dead links were caused by sudden high user traffic. Hopefully, by the time you read this, Hugging Face is working properly.

The second reason is a more litigious one. On the official GitHub page, Meta states its team used 10,000 “high-quality [licensed] music tracks” plus royalty-free songs from Shutterstock and Pond5. Ever since the generative AI craze took off earlier this year, artists have begun to sue developers and platforms alike over “illegal use of copyrighted works.” Meta might soon find itself in the crosshairs of some crossed musicians. Even if it doesn’t get sued over using licensed music to train the LLM, record companies aren’t afraid to flex their industry muscle to shut down this type of content. 

If you're looking for details on how to use AI to generate images, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best AI art generators for 2023. 

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