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Sonos launches a new free radio streaming service

Sonos Radio is an ad-supported streaming service that touts original content as well as local and curated radio playlists.

Published onApril 21, 2020

Speaker company Sonos just made a surprise announcement. As of today, it offers a free ad-supported streaming service called Sonos Radio. The service is accessible within the Sonos app, and existing Sonos device owners will see the service land as part of today’s software update.

Sonos Radio is not a complete streaming replacement, though. Customers can still use their existing streaming services on their Sonos speakers like Apple Music, Pandora, and Spotify. But, since Sonos Radio will come preloaded in the speaker control app, new customers will have access to this new service before they even add their other services.

How it works

The new radio service consists of three content pillars: Local Radio, Sonos Stations, and Sonos Presents. Local Radio allows users to tune in to their favorite local sports, news, or music radio stations, as well as listen to other local stations across the globe. Sonos achieved this in partnership with other radio streaming services like TuneIn and iHeartRadio with more coming soon.

Sonos Stations function more like Pandora, featuring ad-supported genre-based stations. Users can choose from more than 30 content categories, including country, hip hop, rock, and classical options. Sonos hand-curates these stations, and the song lists will be refreshed periodically.

Read also: Sonos sues Google, claims it and Amazon stole its speaker tech

The third and most exciting part of Sonos Radio is Sonos Presents, which even features original programming. The headline station — Sound System — is ad-free, and it features “new, well-known, or rediscovered music, behind-the-scenes stories, as well as guest artist radio hours from the likes of Angel Olsen, JPEGMAFIA, Phoebe Bridgers, Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Vagabon, and more.”

Sonos Presents also features a series of artist-curated stations where musicians share playlists containing other music “inspired by their own influences and obsession.” Today, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke kicks off the service, and upcoming artists include Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, David Byrne, and Third Man Records. All of these artist stations will also be ad-free.

We don’t expect Sonos Radio to replace your existing music streaming services. Though it looks promising, offerings like Apple Music, Spotify, and Deezer have a few benefits over radio streaming services like on-demand streaming and offline listening. But, according to Sonos, nearly half of all listening time on the company’s speakers is dedicated to radio streaming, so we expect Sonos Radio will be a hit among these individuals.

Sonos Radio’s local stations will be available to everyone globally after today’s app update. Sonos Presents and Sonos Stations are also launching today in Australia, Canada, Ireland, the UK, and the US, with more markets to come soon.