Sonos is kicking its streaming ambitions up a notch, with the launch of a subscription-based radio service called Sonos Radio HD.
Available in the US and UK, it costs $7.99 / £7.99 a month, and promises ‘high-fidelity audio’ of the Sonos Sound System radio station. There will also be exclusive artist-curated stations (Dolly Parton being the first) and a range of genre and activity-based stations that won’t be available on the existing, ad-supported Sonos Radio service that launched in April this year.
This is an extension of Sonos’s partnership with Napster – Sonos Radio HD is a ‘Powered by Napster’ service – but there’s another partner involved that’s interesting. Startup Super Hi-Fi’s technology is being used across the free and paid tiers of Sonos Radio, and heralds the company’s rebranding of its AI-powered tech as a package called ‘Conductor’.
Our interview with Super Hi-Fi from August 2019 is still a good primer on what it’s doing. Conductor includes the latest iteration of its ‘MagicStitch’ AI that handles the tasks of a traditional radio producer, and also something called ‘Dynamic Content curator’ which weaves brand IDs, artist interview clips, news snippets and other content into a music stream.
That’s why something like Sonos Radio is interesting, even if it doesn’t reach the scale of the biggest streaming services. That may give it the freedom to experiment with technologies to make a lean-back stream of music tracks sound more radio-like. Which may in turn prove highly useful to those bigger DSPs in the future, as they set their sights on competing with traditional radio.