Sonos Is Launching A Radio Service, But You Will Cop Targeted Ads

Sonos Is Launching A Radio Service, But You Will Cop Targeted Ads
Image: Tegan Jones/Gizmodo Australia

Last month Sonos announced a brand new operating system which will be released in June. But the brand has some new tricks up its sleeve before then. It is introducing a brand new radio streaming service, and its available now. There’s just one caveat – you need to update your user agreement to use it, which allows the service to deliver targeted ads.

As soon as you install today’s software update you’ll have access to Sonos Radio – a new streaming service that combines over 60,000 radio programs from around the world, as well as original shows created by Sonos in collaboration with music artists.

Local radio stations will appear first in the list, based on your location, but you can search for any programs you want from around the world across a myriad of topics, such as news, music, culture and sport.

This means that you can choose to tune into something like Triple J Hack and then chase it with some BBC World Service, all from the Sonos app.

Sonos will also be offering ad-free artist curated stations, which will stream the music they’re in love with. It’s reminiscent of artists guest programming Rage. Thom Yorke has a station available now, and stations curated by Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, David Byrne, and Third Man Records will release in the coming weeks.

Sonos has always made it easy for customers to discover the riches of streaming music services by building premium products that sound great and by giving customers the freedom to use the services of their choice,” said Sonos CEO Patrick Spence in a statement.

“Sonos Radio brings together streaming radio services and a select set of curated radio stations in a simple, elegant way. This is just a beginning as we work to deliver services that provide our customers a better experience, and provide our music streaming service partners an opportunity to highlight their best content.”

It’s worth noting that to access Sonos radio you will need to accept new terms and conditions. Part of this gives permission for Sonos Radio to engage in targeted advertising. You have to accept the new terms in order to use Sonos Radio.

The good news is that the original content produced by Sonos will be completely ad free. As for the other 60,000 stations, Sonos tells us there will be some ads but the amount will depend on each individual station.

“[It’s] “relatively limited and not meant to be disruptive to the listening experience,” said a Sonos spokesperson in a briefing with Gizmodo Australia.

When we asked more about how the ad system would work, Sonos was reluctant to use the word “targeted”. However, a spokesperson said the ad experience would be optimised for general listening habits and location and that they may be “locally relevant.”

It is currently unclear whether Sonos is considering a paid ad-free tier for Sonos Radio in the future. But at least potentially getting a local or somewhat personalised ad won’t be that different to listening to an Australian radio station or being delivered a targeted ad on social media.

We also know that there is more in store for Sonos Radio in the future. Our guess is podcasts, but the company is currently keeping its plans under wraps.

“This is the first step and we already have things we’re working on behind the curtain”