Sonos is going big into radio — yes, radio.
The industry leader in Wi-Fi speakers just announced a new ad-supported radio service, called Sonos Radio, that gives Sonos speaker owners free and unrestricted access to more than 60,000 digital radio stations. This includes stations from TuneIn and iHeartRadio, as well as local NPR, sports, news and other music stations. Sonos owners will be able to access Sonos Radio within their Sonos app as soon as today, which is when the free update is rolling out.
Radio might seem like a surprising move for Sonos, the industry leader in Wi-Fi speakers, but according to the company, nearly half of all listening time on Sonos speakers is spent listening to the radio. Not Spotify or Apple Music. Radio. If you’re one of those people who frequently listens to the radio on your Sonos speakers, you might have a couple of questions. Most notably, how will this affect me?
How will Sonos Radio affect you?
Sonos Radio might not drastically change the way you listen to the radio on your Sonos speakers — it’s just going to give you more options, but only if you want them. You can think of Sonos Radio as just a repackaging of the music and radio streaming services that you were already using, but they’re just going to be located in a new centralized location within the Sonos app. TuneIn will still be available in the Sonos app as a stand-alone service. For new customers, Sonos Radio will be the new default radio service from the moment they set-up.
What’s special about Sonos Radio?
There are two parts to Sonos Radio. First, it’s acting as a centralized location to find local and global radio stations so that you can listen to them on your Sonos speakers. More interesting, Sonos is creating original content for the first time in its history and this original content will be accessible exclusively within Sonos Radio.
What kind of original content can I listen to?
Sonos is creating three different types of original content and most of it leverages the company’s relationships with famous musicians and personalities.
• Sonos Sound System is the main reason why most people should listen to Sonos Radio (in my opinion). It’s an ad-free station where you can listen to “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.” These artist-hosted radio hours will be released every Wednesday, and they’ll share some cool original stories.
• Ad-Free Artist Stations are song playlists that have been curated by different musicians, artists and DJs based on their own influences and obsessions. You’ll be able to find curated playlists by Thom Yorke of Radiohead (premiers at launch), Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and David Byrne of Talking Heads, with additional artist stations expected to be added regularly.
• Sonos Stations are curated music stations based on genre. There will be 30 different stations at launch, and they’ll be very similar to other curated genre playlists that you’d find on Spotify, Apple Music or Pandora, but they’ll be curated by Sonos instead. This is admittedly the least exciting of Sonos’s new original content — plus it’ll have ads — but it’ll act as another way for people to stay within the Sonos app.
Can I listen to Sonos Radio on my headphones? Outside my house?
No, Sonos Radio can only be listened to on Sonos speakers. This means that if you own Sonos speakers, but want to listen to the radio streaming service outside the home, say while on run or in the car, you’re not able to. At least not right now.
Will I be able to control Sonos Radio with my voice?
The short answer is no. If you normally ask Alexa or Google Assistant to listen to a certain radio station, it’s still going to default you to either TuneIn or iHeartRadio (or whichever default service you have set up). In order to access Sonos Radio, you’ll have to launch it with the Sonos app.
How do I find Sonos Radio within the Sonos app?
You can find Sonos Radio by opening your Sonos app, clicking “Browse’ in the lower-left corner and Sonos Radio should appear there. If you don’t see it, don’t panic. Sonos Radio is rolling out as a free update today and some people will be getting it early than others. Check back later in the day to see if it appears.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.