Sonos, the company behind some of the most popular wireless speakers around, is making a big leap into streaming with Sonos Radio.
It’s is a free, ad-supported streaming service for owners of Sonos hardware. Listeners will get access to 60,000 local radio stations as well as original, curated programming from Sonos.
Sonos will integrate several internet radio services, including TuneIn and iHeartRadio. Users will be able to access content based on their post code, or just tune into any station globally, like San Francisco’s SomaFM or Germany’s ByteFM.
Then there are the artist stations, curated by folks such as Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, which are ad-free. In Yorke’s words: “Here in a new form is that ever-rolling compilation/office chart habit of mine of putting together what I have found recently that fascinates or moves me, what obsesses me, challenges me, opens new doors, reminds me of what I might have forgotten, is insanely complex or elegantly simple, violent, funny, messy, heavy or light.” Well, that sounds…eclectic.
More artist stations will launch “in the coming weeks,” courtesy of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, David Byrne and Third Man Records.
Sonos is also launching Sonos Stations, which are free but ad-supported. They’re genre-inspired, Sonos says, and with names like Concert Hall, Kids Rock, and Hip Hop Archive, they sound a lot like Apple Music’s stations. Sonos says they’ll be regularly refreshed and hand-curated.
Finally, the Sonos Sound System is a Beats 1-like radio station with handpicked music from DJs and artists such as Angel Olsen, JPEGMAFIA, Phoebe Bridgers, Jeff Parker (Tortoise), and Vagabon. It’s also ad-free.
Sonos Radio is the new default for Sonos owners. In a way, it competes with existing streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The advantage to Sonos speaker owners is that they can enjoy free music without coughing up additional monthly payments. Of course, Sonos will continue to support more than a hundred streaming services as it did before.
The new service is only available on Sonos speakers and soundbars. Also, streaming quality is 128kbps according to The Verge, which is way lower than Spotify (320kbps) and Apple Music (256kbps).
The service has a bit of a staggered launch. Global radio stations are available worldwide right away, while the original programming is launching in the U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland, and Australia today, with more countries to follow.