What To Do When Google Assistant Won't Play Music

Six troubleshooting tips to get those tunes playing again.

A phone sitting on a table with Google Assistant failing to play music.

 imran kadir photography / Getty Images

The Google Assistant virtual assistant controls your phone with voice commands. It sets appointments, sends texts, and plays music from a variety of apps and streaming services.

What to Do When Google Assistant Won't Play Music

When Google Assistant won't play music, there could be a problem with the Google app, your linked Google account, or even the command you're using to play music. If you're having problems playing local music, you may be able to get it working again by following one of these six troubleshooting tips:

  • Verify that the Google app and your music service app have the necessary permissions.
  • Link your Google Assistant device and music service account to the same Google account.
  • Try linking a new music service to your Google account.
  • Set the correct default music service on your Google Assistant device.
  • Include the phrase "in my library" in your request when attempting to play the music that's stored on your device.
  • Create a playlist of locally stored music, and ask Google Assistant to play that.

Let's explore approaches to each of these troubleshooting ideas.

How to Check Your Google App And Music Service App Permissions

Google Assistant cannot work properly if it doesn't have access to the Google app and other core functions. These access controls are set through your phone's permissions settings. Permissions determine which apps have access to which functions. For example, the Google app needs access to your phone's microphone to hear voice commands. Music apps, including Google Play Music, also require certain permissions to work as advertised.

Google Play Music is being phased out in favor of YouTube Music, and will likely go away at the end of 2020. The company is making it easy to transfer playlists and music from Google Play Music to YouTube Music.

Here's how to check permissions on an Android device:

Permissions work differently on iOS devices. For example, to change microphone settings on an iOS device, go to Settings > Privacy > Microphone. Toggle each app on or off to control microphone access.

  1. Open the Settings app, and select Apps & permissions.

    A screenshot of the Android Settings app.

    If you have an older version of Android, you may need to select Apps instead.

  2. Select Google.

    A screenshot of the Android apps and notifications menu.
  3. Select Permissions.

    A screenshot of the Google app info screen.
  4. If any of the sliders are toggled to the left or grayed out, slide them to the right.

    A screenshot of the Google app permissions screen.
  5. Select the back arrow until you return to the Apps & permissions screen. Then select the app you use to play music. In this example, we're using Google Play Music.

    A screenshot of the Android apps and notifications menu.

    Compatible music services include Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and YouTube Music, among others.

  6. Select Permissions.

    A screenshot of the Google Play Music app info screen.
  7. Make sure that the app has storage permission if you want it to be able to access locally stored music files.

    A screenshot of the Google Play Music permissions screen.
  8. Check to see if Google Assistant is able to play music.

How to Link Your Google Assistant Device And Music Service To The Same Google Account

Some music service apps, like Google Play Music, require both your Google Assistant and your music app to be tied to the same Google account. If you use multiple Google accounts, a mismatch here can prevent Google Assistant from playing music.

This same basic problem can also cause problems with Google Home. If you are having this problem, try linking your music accounts, like Spotify, from within the Google Home app on your phone.

  1. Open the Google app, and select the More menu.

    A screenshot of the Google app.

    Depending on the versions of Android and the Google app you have installed, you may see ⋮ More, ☰ More, or just More.

  2. Check the Google account at the top of the menu screen. Your music service app needs to be linked to whichever account is listed here.

    A screenshot of the Google app account screen.
  3. If you need to switch the Google used by Google Assistant, select the down arrow.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant account screen.
  4. Select the account that you want to use with Google Assistant.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant account switch screen.

    If you don't see the account you're trying to link, select Add another account and follow the on-screen prompts to add a new Google account to your device.

  5. Open your music app. For this example, we'll use Google Play Music. Select the menu icon indicated by three horizontal lines ().

    A screenshot of Google Play Music.
  6. Your current account will be displayed in the top left corner of the screen. User icons associated with additional accounts will be displayed to the right of that. If the incorrect Google account is selected, select the correct account.

    A screenshot of the Google Play Music account menu.
  7. Select Switch.

    A screenshot of the Google Play Music account switch confirmation menu.
  8. Repeat this process for each music service app that you use.

How to Link New Music Accounts To Google Assistant When It Won’t Play Music

There's a chance that you could have a problem with your Google Play Music app or account. Linking a new music account may fix the problem.

If Google Assistant is able to play music with the newly linked service, then double-check that you're using the same Google account in both Google Assistant and Google Play Music. If you are, try uninstalling and reinstalling Google Play Music, or whichever music streaming app is giving you problems.

Here's how to link a new music streaming service account to Google Assistant:

  1. Open the Google Assistant app, and select your profile image in the top-right corner.

    Depending on the versions of Android and the Google app you have installed, you may see ⋮ More, ☰ More, or just More.

  2. Select Settings.

    A screenshot of the Google app account menu.
  3. Select Music.

    A screenshot of the Google account settings menu.
  4. Select the link icon next to the respective music app.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant music preferences menu.

    Services like Pandora and Spotify have both free and premium versions. If you don't have a subscription to any of these services, create a free account and then link it using these instructions.

  5. Select Link Account.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant Spotify link confirmation screen.
  6. Select Agree.

    A screenshot of the Spotify app Google integration confirmation screen.

    If you've never logged into Spotify on your device, you may need to download and log into the Spotify app during this step.

  7. Repeat the previous steps for each additional music service you want to link.

    A screenshot of the Google Assistant music preferences screen.

    You can play music from any linked service by specifying the service in your Google Assistant voice command.

  8. Check to see if Google Assistant is able to play music from any of the newly linked services.

How to Set the Default Music Service on a Google Assistant Device

You can select the default service to use if no other service is specified. Try selecting a different default service, like switching from Google Play Music to Spotify, and see if that allows Google Assistant to play music.

  1. Open the Google Assistant app.

  2. Select your profile image in the top-right corner, then select Services > Music.

  3. Select a default music service for Google Assistant.

What to Do When Google Assistant Won’t Play Songs in Your Library

Google Assistant is designed to be able to play music from streaming services like Google Play Music and Spotify, as well as offline music from local storage on your phone. If you're having trouble getting Google Assistant to play music from your phone, specify "in my library" at the end of your command.

Screenshots showing how to use the Google Assistant play in library command.

For example, the command "Play Sleater-Kinney in my library" prompts Google Assistant to open locally stored songs from the band Sleater-Kinney using your default music app.

Create a Playlist to Work Around Other Problems

The best workaround for hard-to-resolve, non-specific problems is to create playlists using music files stored on your phone, and then ask Google Assistant to play one of these playlists.

Screenshots showing how to get Google Assistant to play a local playlist.

For example, create a playlist in Google Play Music using locally stored songs. Use the command "Play [name of created playlist]." If Google Assistant still isn't able to play any of your locally stored files, you may have to wait for Google to release a fix that addresses a specific glitch or device-and-service incompatibility. Visit the official Google Assistant support forum for additional information and to report your problem.