Audio equipment manufacturer Sonos has unveiled its own streaming service—Sonos Radio. Over 60,000 stations can be streamed, many of them without ads. Included are stations available through iHeartRadio and TuneIn, as well as Artist Stations that play music curated by well-known artists like David Byrne, Thom Yorke, Brittany Howard, and Alabama Shakes. The Artist Stations are all ad-free.
Sonos Sound System is the company’s flagship station hosted by Sonos staff, who will also choose the music, from a studio in New York City. Free of ads, the station will broadcast original programming including “new and well-known” music, stories about recording artists, and radio hours hosted by guest artists. The radio hours are 60 minutes long and will broadcast every Wednesday.
The station’s catalog will dabble in a range of music genres. Among the listed categories are Blues Masters, Concert Hall, Indie Gold, and Punk Riot.
Returning to the Artist Stations, Thom Yorke’s goes online today (April 21). Called In the Absence Thereof …, the station features songs recorded by some of Yorke’s own musical influences. “Here, in a new form,” York said, “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.”
Along with Artist Stations and Sonos Sound System, there are 30 Sonos Stations, each committed to one genre. While free like the others, Sonos Stations feature advertisements, so you might find yourself switching between them frequently.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Sonos Product Marketing Director Ryan Richards said the company is taking its new service platform one step at a time. For now the object is providing customers with an assorted listening experience, but paid subscriptions and on-demand content could follow.
“This is about lean-back listening, it’s about discovery,” Richards said. “There are a lot of options for active listening out there, too, and so what we’re really focused on is first and foremost making the best possible radio service for our customers. In the future, we’ll see how that changes, but that’s what we’re focused on now.”
Sonos Radio will reportedly stream at 128Kbps, which is standard for internet radio, though lower than Spotify’s 160Kbps, which rises to 320Kbps for customers paying for premium service. (Some services, e.g. Qobuz, stream at 850Kbps, which is like the women’s cashmere of audio). To begin with, the original Sonos stations are available in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia. More countries will be added to the list as the project moves forward.