Alexa, play Mefi* music March 19, 2017 11:09 AM   Subscribe

While bemoaning the fact that there's not an Amazon playlist or station that scratches my itch for eclectic music, it dawned on me that Mefi Music hits that particular sweet spot for me. Which led me to wonder about the feasibility of integrating Alexa with Mefi music. It seems it's been done for iPhone using the RSS feed, so I'm assuming doing something for Alexa is not totally out of the question. I'm curious as to what people think of the idea in general, and also any thoughts on technical implementation.

I'd figure if anyone was interested in making such an app, this discussion could be useful resource for them.

*Shudders as a potential new front opens on the pronunciation wars
posted by forforf to MetaFilter-Related at 11:09 AM (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Huh. I know nothing about Alexa integration stuff so basically no initial comment from me, but in the spirit of folks chattering about it: chatter away.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:10 AM on March 19, 2017

Not Alexa related, but check out Radio Paradise If you haven't already. Free (accepts donations), human curated playlists.
posted by Bunny Boneyology at 1:27 PM on March 19, 2017

This sounds like it could be quirky fun. I've no technical expertise, but if someone created the skill, I'd enable it.
posted by solotoro at 1:51 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

One thing I wondered about was whether Alexa would be able to play and control the music files, but it looks from the RSS feed that the actual music files are hosted on Amazon and accessible. Is there a comprehensive list of songs anywhere? Or would it require scraping the RSS or website? A related question would be are all the songs the same format (.mp3)?

Another piece I was wondering is general song metadata. It would be nice to be able to invoke a playlist grouped by tags or charts, but I'm not sure of the best way to handle metadata.

In general I'm leery of scraping the RSS feed (or even worse, the website) for song and metadata information, as then that would require create a parallel unofficial data store.
Ideally there'd be a way to query Metafilter to get a list of song urls, but I don't think anything like that exists.

As for an Alexa app, Looking quickly at Amazon's developer stuff, it looks like Alexa apps or just Android apk's. It also looks like they use Eclipse as the IDE of choice. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to Eclipse, at least I think I'd prefer hives to actually developing in it again.
posted by forforf at 4:50 PM on March 19, 2017

Alexa apps are definitely not apks. Alexa runs Lambda packages, which are generally Node, but can also be Python or Java.
posted by bowbeacon at 5:54 PM on March 19, 2017

Well, Alexa can play podcasts via TuneIn. I'm not sure that's the best venue for MeFi Music, but I'd sure like it were the monthly podcasts to be available there.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:58 PM on March 19, 2017

Incidentally, I get most of my Alexa Echo Dot usage running my Philips Hue lights and playing my music library (which I put in its entirety on Amazon). But I've sat around and thought of about twenty different skills that Alexa could offer were Amazon committed to providing the API for some missing functionality that I'd use all the time, and so would other people.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:02 PM on March 19, 2017

It's pretty simple to add the tags to an existing RSS feed that would make any podcatcher app recognize it as a podcast, FWIW.
posted by softlord at 9:17 PM on March 19, 2017

forforf: "I'm assuming doing something for Alexa is not totally out of the question"

my name is Alexa so I agree with this
posted by capricorn at 12:23 PM on March 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is relatively easy, and alexa has built in methods for playing and controlling audio files. The hard part is discovering the music, as I imagine there isn't an metafilter api.

I can probably implement the following:

Play the latest songs from the main feed.
Play a random song
Play songs based on a tag feed
Play songs based on a user feed.
I can theoretically play a playlist feed, but there doesn't seem to be anyway to discover them, except by number.

I'm going to try and knock something together this weekend, but I don't want to host it on my own aws account on the (very slight) chance that it generates enough lambda calls to actually cost money to run.
posted by empath at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Welcome back, empath!
posted by filthy light thief at 2:44 PM on March 21, 2017

I can volunteer my AWS account for hosting, if needed.
posted by forforf at 5:34 PM on March 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Update: I have a skill that plays songs from random. Now I just need to figure out how to setup a playlist. Once I get that done, I'll upload the source to github with instructions on how to set it up on your AWS account.
posted by empath at 8:28 PM on March 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by forforf at 8:04 AM on April 5, 2017

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