‘Alexa, play metal’: exploring music selection and personal information management via voice assistants


  • Jochen Steffens Hochschule Düsseldorf
  • Jesse David Dinneen Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Sascha Donner Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Tom Potthoff Hochschule Düsseldorf




virtual voice assistants, music listening, personal information management, voice user interfaces


Introduction. Music streaming services have changed how music is played and perceived, but also how it is managed by individuals. Voice interfaces to such services are becoming increasingly com-mon, for example through voice assistants on mobile and smart devices, and have the poten-tial to further change personal music management by introducing new beneficial features and new challenges.

Method. To explore the implications of voice assistants for personal music listening and management we surveyed 248 participants online and in a lab setting to investigate (a) in which situa-tions people use voice assistants to play music, (b) how the situations compare to established activities common during non-voice assistant music listening, and (c) what kinds of com-mands they use.

Analysis. We categorised 653 situations of voice assistant use, which reflect differences to non-voice assistant music listening, and established 11 command types, which mostly reflect finding or refinding activities but also indicate keeping and organisation activities.

Results. Voice assistants have some benefits for music listening and personal music management, but also a notable lack of support for traditional personal information management activities, like browsing, that are common when managing music.

Conclusion. Having characterised the use of voice assistants to play music, we consider their role in per-sonal music management and make suggestions for improved design and future research.




How to Cite

Steffens, J., Dinneen, J. D., Donner, S., & Potthoff, T. (2024). ‘Alexa, play metal’: exploring music selection and personal information management via voice assistants. Information Research an International Electronic Journal, 29(2), 50–70. https://doi.org/10.47989/ir292646



Peer-reviewed papers