The Next Generation of Sonos Leadership

The Next Generation of Sonos Leadership

As the founder and CEO of Sonos, I am always trying to find leaders who are capable of taking Sonos to the next level. Part of that means assessing my own role. With Sonos now poised for a new phase of growth, I am excited to pass the role of Chief Executive Officer to a well-prepared Patrick Spence. Patrick demonstrated his leadership most recently with Sonos’ success during the holiday period, but more importantly, there isn't a person who better embodies Sonos’ values and culture.

Patrick Spence and John MacFarlane
Patrick Spence (left) and John MacFarlane

Patrick's leadership comes at a magical moment for Sonos. Music has made the transition to streaming. It took longer than we expected but it's fully here now, leading with a handful of paid subscription services: Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Google Play Music, QQ Music, Amazon Music, SoundCloud, Tidal, etc. There will be many more options for music lovers as the music labels learn to make a start-up friendly ecosystem and the paid subscription services build platforms. Today, a Sonos owner can play almost everything ever made, and tomorrow we will certainly be able to do that with all manner of preferences, niches, themes, and mixes. Music is a wonderfully unique and developing thing, making our mission the most motivational in the world. It's never been a better time for connecting music lovers in their homes to music creators.

Add to that the advent of useful experiences with voice assistants in the home to complement the smartphone, tablet, watch and laptop in finding the right music, at any given time of your day. Here at Sonos, we all came to this epiphany differently and at different moments, but the work we’re doing now will deliver meaningful experiences for music listening at home.

Other elements around our home ecosystem are maturing as well. Home Wi-Fi is becoming mission critical, (the reason we developed our mesh network and Boost) and it is now reflected in the growing diversity and depth in the consumer Wi-Fi market. The smart home is on the cusp of becoming an experience beyond early tech adoption.

The pivot that Sonos started at this time last year to best address these changes is complete. For us, it's now about accelerating and leading. I can look ahead and see the role of Sonos, with the right experiences, partners, and focus, with a healthy future. In short, the future of the home music experience and the opportunity for Sonos has never been better. Never.

There are no typical transitions of leadership, especially for founder-led companies where the strength lies in a central interpretation of the culture that is essential for the formation and development of a new company in a complex and rapidly changing environment. However, the culture must move beyond the founder, and that's a unique path for every company. That moment has come for Sonos. I trust Patrick and the team with this growth.

Moving forward, I will remain as a Sonos employee, with a mission to help and advise. In addition to mentoring Sonos leaders, I will be focusing on two areas that I am most passionate about. First, I’ll help to center and potentially expand Sonos’ commitment to STEM education. Second, I’ll continue to work within the music and tech industries to help create a start-up friendly ecosystem.

It's been a pleasure and honor working toward a mission of filling every home with music. The fifteen-year journey has been filled with fantastic adventures, hard learnings, and everything in between. I look forward to our next chapter.

Sincerely,
John


Play Music from Spotify Straight to Sonos with Spotify Connect

We’ve teamed up with Spotify to make it easier than ever to keep the music going strong. Now Spotify Premium users can control their Sonos straight from the Spotify app using Spotify Connect. Use all the features you love on Spotify: the curation, discovery, and sharing, and hear it all throughout your home in crystal clear sound. You can also access the multi-room power of the Sonos home sound system directly in the Spotify app. We’ve brought out the best of both worlds to give you the smartest and most seamless home sound system yet.

Bring the music home.
Hate missing the end of a track because you arrived back home before it finished? Spotify now lets you control your sound system from the same place as your mobile soundtrack, so you can go straight from listening through your headphones to listening out loud with a simple tap. The music doesn’t stop when you walk in the door.

All together now.
Having guests join the party is a piece of cake. Visiting friends can now play music on your Sonos system straight from their Spotify app. Build the playlist together, trade-off DJ duties, and add individual tracks to the soundtrack, all from the Spotify app. Hosting the perfect Playlist Potluck just became as simple as getting the right friends over to your place.

Discover. Out loud.
Now you have all the power of Sonos all over your home, directly through Spotify. Crank up the volume in every room of your home with one-tap access to grouping and ungrouping rooms right in Spotify. Pick a song, pick a room, and start playing.

True harmony.
No more playing solo. Now you can control the music from any phone or tablet, using your choice of either the Spotify or Sonos app. Start listening to playlists you create on Spotify, and skip or pause tracks directly from Sonos. Both apps show you exactly what’s playing from Spotify.

Ready to dive into the new Sonos? We joined forces with world-class chef and part-time rockstar Danny Bowien to create the ultimate way to share the experience of listening out loud: Playlist Potluck. Spend an evening at Danny's place as he shows you how all the new features make it easier than ever to bring your friends together over music.

 


Ready for a big group of fun!

Sonos & Spotify bring music to the table with Playlist Potluck

Music, food and drink bring us together in a new tradition of friendship celebrations that are as important to us as family gatherings.

Who are your friends?

At first, it seems a simple question. But think again: when was the last time you saw your best friend? Who did you spend your weekend with? Who are the people you really care about and how do you stay close to them?

Science tells us we can maintain a network of up to 150 friends but that we, really, only could count our close friends at 15.

We maintain connections in their hundreds, sometimes thousands, on social media and our networks of “friends” are linked by likes and shares. We can go for months without a face to face interaction with some of the people we consider closest to our hearts.

Today’s friendship has become abstracted by our globalized and increasingly virtual lives. We have become more nomadic, moving in our careers from town to town, to new countries even. We make new friendships as we go, with more and more of our life taking place online.  

With social media, we don’t have to let friendships lapse, keeping pace via feeds and photographs; snatched moments of connectivity that create a feeling of close proximity regardless of distance. These changes are having a fundamental impact on friendship itself.

We are making more and more friends than ever, but we often struggle to meet in person. The psychology of what we’re experiencing is unique to our time: we are negotiating friendship on entirely new terms, with new tools, and we’re struggling.

What used to be a sci-fi dream of virtual reality is here now, and it is distancing us from the deeper relationships our spirits crave. Against this backdrop, the need for tactile friendship has risen to the fore, and we’re witnessing a renaissance of friendship’s truest forms.

The ‘friendship ceremony’ - coming together has never been more important

In our busy lives, time is precious, and we choose carefully who we spend it with.  Whether we are distanced by time or by continents, connecting physically with our closest friends takes on a new significance.  

These moments are not just dear to us, they affirm the importance of the people we choose to spend them with. They provide much-needed breaks in our lives: a time to truly enjoy friendship in a world moving at breakneck speed.

Now, more than ever, the need to get together has become truly vital. Loneliness has entered the domain of the sociologist, doctor, and epidemiologist; technology has offered us incredible connectivity but we’re fighting against a reality of increased distance and isolation.

Conventional social milestones: weddings, births, birthdays, don’t really serve our needs in this way. The ‘Pintererestization’ of these events can feel almost competitive, with all eyes on the star of the event.

In the gap between, we have started to create our own ‘friendship ceremonies’, sometimes complementing, occasionally replacing traditional family gatherings with something that is altogether more vibrant, loud and fun.

These events are an opportunity to confirm your presence in the social circle, to demonstrate personal value and show appreciation to those around you through inviting them into your home – your most sacred and personal space.

Invitees are finite, usually around 13 - a number that is consistent across countries. Amongst 8 countries studied the biggest average friendship celebration is still only 15, in the USA.


Potlucks: the perfect antidote

Potluck, an old English phrase meaning to accept a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be good. It has also come to mean a meal shared by friends in which everyone brings a dish to the table. It’s a custom that is shared by many cultures, in many countries, each in their own interpretation.  

Potluck dinners are spontaneous; they focus on the group, not the individual. They put the opportunity to celebrate and nurture friendships front and centre. New friendship rituals from Galentines Day, Friendsmas, Friendsgiving, and even Game of Thrones season finales, provide moments to get together and celebrate without the formality of more traditional occasions.

Over half of our global sample (57%) say they look forward to Friendsmas and Friendsgiving gatherings more than their family’s holiday celebrations.

Potluck expresses a desire for flexibility, an opportunity to incorporate the diversity of our modern lives. We are remixing rituals on our own terms.

The locations in which Friendsmas is celebrated implies that people are aiming for greater control of the gathering. Homes are more popular than public places. 49% say they’ve had these events in their own home and 41% a friend’s home, compared to 31% in restaurants, 15% in bars and only 4% in nightclubs. For 74% of people, the event has to involve catching up with old friends and the home is the best setting for this.

It’s surely no surprise to see the perfect holiday gathering events have four key ingredients: friends, music, food and drink.


People and music

2_middle_imageAdding music is fundamental to the holiday party, a condition, alongside good company and great conversation, that is truly fundamental.

85% of attendees say there has to be music playing at these gatherings, and the same percentage believe that just behind the presence of good friends and good conversation being in flow, music is the next most essential ingredient.

"Music has always been part of celebrating Christmas to the point that it is unthinkable to have Christmas parties without music. With Friendsmas parties, music has taken on an even more significant role." Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen

A generation that grew up to a sound-track of poor-quality compressed mp3s has matured and calibrated to an expectation of high quality sonic experiences.

79% valued the sound quality of the music played through the speaker system as ‘important.’

"(Now) music is among the goods you can savor and appreciate in a high quality mode, not just consuming it as you go along."

Services such as Spotify have accelerated our ability to discover music exponentially. Simultaneously, the speed of sharing and conversation happens faster than ever before. Thanks to these exciting new resources, our tastes are diversifying and we are becoming more empowered to develop and showcase our newfound obsessions.

63% say there needs to be a large music library to choose from while 67% think it should be easy for guests to pick a song. 60% believe that it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to add to the playlist.

"This is in contrast to the idea that there should be a DJ scripting the event. More importantly it’s about sharing access to the playlist; the process of choosing music can help to increase the feeling of togetherness. It’s more democratic, and very few people would try to hijack that and to impose their taste."

Setting the tone with the right music choice helps us to connect and feel comfortable. Helping the conversation from the kitchen to the dining room.

The style of music matches the taste of the people at the gathering: 80%.


Music, food and drink

end_imageAnd talking of the kitchen, the centre of any home, where would we be without great food and drink?

"Once you’ve found the right kind of music, that matches the event, it sends the immediate signal that we’re all on the same page. Then, other types of interaction, like eating together, or cooking together, will benefit from that experience, as the music helps everyone feel the same emotion."

Music is not only a vital ingredient, it’s an enhancer. Where every second is precious, every detail should be optimized.  From our tastebuds to our eyes, music infuses and enhances every aspect of the Potluck.

Music makes the food and drink taste better for 62% of our sample.

"This idea that our senses are separate and completely independent is simply not true. They interact in the brain together: arousal in one sense will carry over to perceived arousal in another sense."


Playlist Potluck: playlists and modern friendship

Playlist Potluck. A potluck in which we all contribute to the food, the music, the atmosphere is perhaps the truest, democratic expression of the friendship ceremony; an essential antidote to the stress and anxiety of modern life. It’s a wonderfully simple and flexibly created social setting to make lasting collective memories.

"One of the reasons music exists at all is around social interaction, bonding and the communication of emotion. Things you couldn’t easily say in language can be much more easily communicated by music."

Playlist Potluck provides the perfect opportunity to reinforce and nurture our most important social bonds with friends.

"Music generates and triggers the same emotions in people. If you feel an emotion triggered by music and you have the impression that someone else is feeling the same emotion, it creates a strong bond. Music is particularly good at doing that – because you are listening to the same stimulus, you want to generate more of this feeling of togetherness, and that might carry over to other activities."

Music at these parties helps 82% relax, and 78% use it as an ice-breaker.

Casting convention aside, there’s no need to follow any rules or guidelines. It’s this informality, the ability to choose together that makes for the best conditions for all, creating shared playlists, enjoying them out loud, as they should be heard.

As we set out on bigger and bolder journeys, the true form of friendship that we long for faces real challenges. But we are finding our own way to tighten connections and strengthen bonds between us. We hope you’ll join us this holiday season by celebrating your own Playlist Potluck with Sonos and Spotify, bringing the perfect collaborative soundtrack into your home.


Survey highlights

  • Over half of our global sample (57%) say they look forward to Friendsmas and Friendsgiving gatherings more than their family’s holiday Christmas celebrations.
  • 85% of attendees say there has to be music playing at these gatherings, and the same percentage believe that just behind the presence of good friends and good conversation being in flow, music is the next most essential ingredient.
  • The music at these parties helps 82% relax, and 78% use it as an ice-breaker.
  • 79% valued the sound quality of the music played through the speaker system as ‘important.’
  • 63% say that there needs to be a large music library to choose from while 67% think it should be easy for guests to pick a song.
  • 73% believe that music encourages people to sing along.
  • Music makes the food and drink taste better for 62% of our sample.
  • The style of music matches the taste of the people at the gathering: 80%.

  • 60% believe that it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to add to the playlist.
  • Invitees are finite, usually around 13 - a number that is consistent across countries. Amongst 8 countries studied the biggest average friendship celebration is still only 15, in the USA.

What we did

The Study

In August 2016, Sonos and Spotify commissioned a quantitative global study of adults aged 18-40 across the UK, U.S, France, Germany, Canada, Sweden, Australia and Netherlands. We spoke to over 9,000 people in these eight countries, and compiled usage data from millions of Sonos homes and Spotify customers. Our analysis was also informed and supported by two independent experts and Flamingo Cultural Intelligence.

The Experts

Oliver Burkeman - new relationships and milestones

Author and Journalist, Oliver explores the evolving fabric of everyday life and relationships, from ‘The trouble with modern friendship’ to ‘Can you make your own happiness?’

Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen – music psychologist

Music Psychologist, Course Director and member of the Music, Mind & Brain research group at Goldsmiths University, London.


Still want more?

Please head over to our friends at Polygraph for some interactive fun.

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The New All White SONOS Sub

The New Sonos Sub: A Vision In White

Soul-shaking sound. Heart-pounding design. One-button setup. Just a few of the qualities that made the Sonos SUB such a welcome addition to the homes of music and home cinema lovers the world over.

As the new all-white version becomes available, we caught up with the folks behind the bass to find out what made the original SUB so special and what the refresh means for home design today:

“Once we decided that we were going to make a SUB, we were trying to tackle two problems,” explains Mieko Kusano, Senior Director of Product Management. “One – typical subs are just pretty ugly! Two – most are basically designed as large cubes making them very inflexible to place. We wanted to design an object that was beautiful enough that people wouldn’t want to hide it and which was also very flexible.”

Sonos Sub. Soul-shaking sound. Heart-pounding design. One-button setup.

You might say we have a passion in trying to make our speakers more in tune with how we’re all living, so it’s no surprise that the team then looked at some basic architectural principles for inspiration:

“The challenge we have with our products is that they have to live in your environment, but frankly we also have to design them to disappear,” says Tad Toulis, VP of Design. “We only want them to come forward when you’re actually using them.”

“Before, it felt like technology had to try and be dressed up to feel appropriate in the house, and now we’re past that and it just needs to be done really beautifully”.

Using some classic Nordic design principles, the SUB’s new white makeover takes Tad’s vision a step further. Now able to blend seamlessly into homes with lighter décors, its stripped-back beauty allows the SUB to be as present or as passive as it needs to be.

It’s this sense of domestic revolution that inspired Creative Director Dana Krieger: “Before, it felt like technology had to try and be dressed up to feel appropriate in the house, and now we’re past that and it just needs to be done really beautifully”. But its chameleon-like qualities belie an awesome punch that doesn’t give the typical rattle of most sub-woofers, explains Mieko:

“There’s a tremendous amount of force coming through that hole, but if you put a glass of wine on top of it you don’t see any movements. And you’ll notice that our speakers are kind of like Lego blocks that fit together – put them together their behaviour changes. If you don’t have the SUB, the other speakers have to generate the bass and so you’re actually taking some of the midrange out of them to enable them to do so. So the moment you add a SUB to your set up, not only are you going to get more bass, but also the speakers that were trying to generate the bass before suddenly get to a better, fuller sound”.

So from making your house party sound system complete, to hearing every boom, crash and rumble thundering from the latest blockbuster, the all-white SUB brings the bass back home again.


DELS drawing with SONOS

At Home With: DELS

We recently wrapped up London Design Festival at Sonos Studio, an event schedule packed with our friends from the creative world including Hole & Corner, It’s Nice That, PATTERNITY and MUBI.

Amongst those friends was rapper / art director Kieren Gallear AKA DELS, who spoke at our ‘Listening By Design’ event hosted by It’s Nice That. In his talk, he took us on a sonic journey through the listening habits of his day and discussed how the music inspires his creative output.

This week, DELS invited us into his North London home to show us how his two worlds as a both an art director and music artist merge and are influenced by what he listens to in his living space.

How much of your creative process starts at the home? Does that differ for art direction and music?

The nature of what I do creatively is so broad. I’m more inclined to come up with ideas for illustrations, screenplays and songs at home in my own space, than anywhere else. I can create my own worlds within these disciplines. I often draw inspiration from fantasy when working on illustrations and writing songs. There are parallels in terms of a creative mindset. It’s impulsive, instinctual, and very personal. At my desk in my bedroom, I often pin up reference imagery and my own ink drawings. Without them, the impulsive, creative bursts of energy wouldn’t happen. It feels like a form of escapism after a long day working on client based Art Direction projects or working at agencies.

DELS Desk

When working on art direction projects, are their any rituals around listening to music that gets in you a creative mindset?

Before I start work, I usually begin with something really uptempo musically. That can range from energetic new hip hop records, Punk to new DJ mixes that I discover online. Before midday, I usually try to focus a little more and genres like Soul, Jazz, Afrobeat really help with that focus. I get lost in the rhythms. I can’t listen to hip hop when I’m actually designing because it puts me in an alternate mindset. Hearing rappers like Andre 3000 pulsate through the speakers gets me so excited and I suddenly get so eager to start writing down words.

In the evenings, when I’m just winding down from a long day, I have a playlist that has loads electronic ambient works on them. There’s something about the space and mood in this song Xtal by Apehex Twin that I find so therapeutic. Whenever I’m trying to relax, I often play this song. It’s because of this very song that I am writing film scripts in my spare time. Words and imagery just flow in my mind when I hear it.

DELS Drawing Book

Is there something about the relationship between space and sound and its ability to clear the the mind here?

It’s the cinematic feel and mood. The stripped back sound of this particular electronic playlist is soothing. I just get lost between the spaces between the individual sounds. I know it sounds weird, but sometimes music feels three dimensional to me and I feel like I’m manoeuvring between each individual sound and they are washing over me. That’s even without the influence of drugs. I know I sound like a nutcase, but it all makes perfect sense in my mind.

DELS Plants

Your living space seems to define your creative state of mind now but what were your influences at home when you were growing up?

I was heavily influenced musically by my Mother and Father who both listened to a lot of forwarding thinking, bass driven, music. Dad leaned more towards early rave, Chicago-House, Jungle and my Mother was more into Soul, Reggae/Dancehall, Hip-Hop & contemporary R&B. Growing up in Suffolk, we didn’t have access to Galleries and stuff, so looking at the artwork on those vinyl record sleeves was my early introduction to the art world in a sense. Meticulously scanning the credits and studying the artists names that created those iconic artworks.

I’ve been revisiting these old Jungle mixes from the early 90’s in the morning all Summer this year. My father used to play them to me as he was a big raver back in the day. When I listen to them, I am instantly transported back to my old bedroom where I’d be reading comic books and sifting through those vacuum formed rave tape packs that my Dad picked up after each rave. I loved the dream-like imagery of those tape packs, juxtaposed with the DJ names emblazoned across the front in bold, cheap typography.

DELS Portrait


Sonic Artifacts from the Underground

Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore

Words by Thurston Moore

The cassette always had the hottest, most excited sound for my ears.

I love physicality in music production – the vibrating speaker in an amp-powered cabinet, bass throbbing and guitar shredding. Record player tonearms licking through the vinyl grooves of tiny, hilly mounds and valleys. The electromagnetic impulse feed flashing through the stylus and cartridge and coming manifest through the cosmos of soul static stereo speakers.

But cassettes are the best, ruling with moving parts, the fat ferrous oxide tape sliced into thin strips holding sonic information zapped off of magnetic heads, whipping, rolling like an automobile in sweet cruise gear.

Thurston Moore's tape collection.
Selects from Thurston’s tape collection hang on the wall in the vinyl listening room at the Sonos flagship store.

In the ’70s we had the 8-track cartridge. Big, clunky and with zero regard for the fact that a song may have to fade out before the track actually finished. The cassette, at first a little cousin to the 8-track, soon became the more sophisticated and applicable medium, and by the mid-’80s was as popular as the LP.

When hip-hop hit big, it was the cassette that carried the news, from the Jeep to the playground. Of course, CDs and digital media came along and reformatted the listener paradigm, but for those of us who wanted to share ideas with some sense of economy, the cassette became our medium, away from the interest of the mainstream.

“…the cassette became our medium, away from the interest of the mainstream.”

My love for cassettes starts with the mixtape, those love letters we’d gift each other of the songs that defined our personalities – or at least the personality we’d want our giftee to think of us by. This practice did indeed fade with the CD, which enticed us to “burn” songs – a lovely thing to do for awhile, until that faded away as well.

At some point in the ’90s I noticed more and more young artists from the estranged musical underground of the globe issuing their sounds on home recorded cassettes with bedroom art/love designed card covers.

Thurston's tape collection, close up!
Thurston’s tape collection

The proliferation of this activity, documenting all the shared and growing aspects of noise, free improvisation, avant-folk and uncategorizable music-making became a scene unto itself, particularly in tandem with the network of communication the internet offered.

From the late-’90s into the ’00s, we had a golden age of underground music made in a wholly alternative environment, away from the standards of commercialized music production. I spent most of this golden age not only active in this scene but fully engaged in archiving as much as I could within my own parameters of absurd reason.

What we have here is but a taste, a morsel, a flash into the dynamic that is the true underpinnings of contemporary music, both experimental and popular. Cassette culture, as underground reportage is still extant today, with films documenting its continued life and sub-sub genres like the most marginalized recesses of black metal avowing elite “kult” status to the holy, lowly tape.

“What we have here is but a taste, a morsel, a flash into the dynamic that is the true underpinnings of contemporary music…”

I suggest locating a decent, inexpensive cassette recorder with built-in microphone, some blank tapes and a head full of steam, mixed with the pleasure of touch. Allow your fingers to push down the play/record buttons, let your inspirations rip, then pass this masterpiece of heart and soul on to the one(s) you love. It’s that easy.

See selects from Thurston’s personal tape collection on display in the vinyl listening room at the Sonos flagship store in Soho.


Where Vinyl Comes Home: Rough Trade In Their Own Words

Where Vinyl Comes Home: Rough Trade In Their Own Words

Rough Trade did more than just survive the digital music revolution. They flourished. At a time when most of NYC’s veteran record shops were putting up “For Sale” signs, Rough Trade was building the biggest record store in the entire city: a 15,000 sq. foot warehouse stacked with thousands of vinyl records, books, complete with coffee shop, bar, performance space, and as of this week, a brand new Sonos-designed listening room.

What kind of mind does it take to keep a classic record shop thriving in the modern age? We sat down with Rough Trade store Co-Owner and Director, Stephen Godfroy to explore the vision that's made an independent mainstay stronger than ever. 

Take us back to the start. Where does Rough Trade begin?
Rough Trade first opened in 1976, West London, on the doorstep of punk. This small neighborhood shop soon became not just a place to purchase the latest records from the exploding DIY music scene, but also a place to hang out for the artists spearheading the groundbreaking DIY movement.

So Rough Trade grew out of London's DIY scene. Now it's many years later and you've expanded across the ocean. What motivated you to open up stateside? 
The decision to open in Brooklyn was made following the success of our flagship London store, Rough Trade East - a store that overcame the odds to prove that a record shop in the age of instantaneous downloads (2007) could be successful not just as a place of exciting new music discovery and purchase, but also a place of congregation for curious minds of all ages.

Having made the model work in East London, we then looked for locations that displayed similar characteristics, e.g. a burgeoning creative arts community. One location that stood out just happened to be the other side of the Atlantic - but the challenge proved irresistible. Four long years later, Rough Trade NYC finally opened in November 2013.

Rough Trade NYC Interior

How does Rough Trade's new community in NYC compare to the established one in London? 
New York music lovers are more vinyl orientated compared to those in London, where CDs still have a (surprising?) role to play. In the UK, Rough Trade has an established recommendation authority for new music, compared to New York, where people are discovering us for the first time, hence only just beginning to appreciate our forty years experience as curators. Consequently, sales driven by our edit are greater in the UK stores, in comparison to NYC, but the gap is narrowing with each passing month.

The digital revolution has upended the traditional business of selling records. How have things evolved for Rough Trade over the years?
Rough Trade stores, large or small, have always served as a meeting place for the artist community, hopefully reflecting our efforts to faithfully represent music as an art form, not a commodity, despite our obvious retail context. With this as a guiding principle, how we then develop a store as a 'destination' beyond being simply a place of purchase, is something that we aim to creatively reinterpret with each new store. If possible, as with our music offer, we look to embrace emerging trends before they surface on a wider scale.

Whether that’s being one of the first (UK) record stores to introduce a cafe (2007), introducing a custom b/w photobooth (2008), or hosting intimate in-store gigs, Rough Trade stores have a ‘petri-dish’ like freedom to experiment, which complements our primary focus on championing innovative and emerging recording artists.

Sonos Listening Room

What separates listening to vinyl from other ways of listening? 
Vinyl is arguably the definitive audio document - an enshrined, crafted moment of creative self- expression shared between artist and audience. Commanding ceremony, tactile care, the ritualized respect of the encased audio is preordained, conditioned to be loved and absorbed. Consequently, the bond forged by vinyl, between artist and listener, is regarded by many as the most trusted, fetishized, intimate music format-induced relationship there is.

Vinyl sales and interest declined for a while. Now they're back and seemingly bigger than ever. What do you think is responsible for this sea change? 
Now that it’s possible to stream the celestial jukebox for the price of two cups of coffee, music lovers, particularly digital natives, can increasingly afford more than one listening format, enjoying the best of both worlds. Given the immense value and reward vinyl provides the listener, its popularity has returned, not as a token of nostalgia, but as the most lavish, multi-sensory form of music immersion available.

Listening Room at Rough Trade NYC

What does having a space to listen out loud mean for you in the store?
To offer a Sonos listening room, in which visitors to our NYC store can sumptuously enjoy listening to the best new music on vinyl, is a dream come true. It’s a perfect encapsulation of modern, multi-format listening enjoyment, reflecting how increasing numbers of music lovers now combine the respective merits of all formats, digital and physical, harmoniously.

We’re incredibly proud, excited and humbled to have Sonos become part of our NYC store experience, further enhancing our kaleidoscopic celebration of music culture.

What’s the experience you hope everyone who visits Rough Trade takes away?
The excited joy of having encountered the future!

The Sonos listening room at Rough Trade NYC is open now for everyone to come listen. Even better, the listening room is available for booking on Airbnb - apply for the chance to live out your ultimate record store fantasy and spend a night at Rough Trade NYC. 


Healthy Habits Of Home: Music, patterns and the art of de-clutter

Healthy Habits Of Home: Music, patterns and the art of de-clutter

PATTERNITY is the baby of art and interiors duo Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham.  We joined forces with them at the London Design Festival and talked to Grace about the patterns that shape our homes, lives and listening habits.

You’re something of a unique entity!  Tell us a bit about how PATTERNITY came to be?

Anna and I set up PATTERNITY because pattern is everywhere, from the mundane to the magnificent. We’re on a mission to inspire positive living through pattern research, design and experience.

Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham
Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham

What kind of influence can patterns have in shaping the rhythms of daily life at home?

There are so many unseen patterns that shape our daily lives that are so easy to overlook. So we’ve been looking at the power of rituals and simplification. There’s a big shift for us towards ‘design’, and what this actually means beyond aesthetic and starting to consider our patterns of behaviour, or how we design our lives. When you reflect on the less visual patterns that shape life you really start to learn more about creativity which is a big part of what our event is for you is about.

Patternity de-clutter strategy at play

The art of simplification played a big part in your workshop for us. How can the art of de-clutter bring joy in the home?

We’re living in a complex, oversaturated world and we can feel totally overwhelmed by the amount of ‘stuff’ we have to deal with on a day to day basis. The home environment is an extension of our individuality so it’s really important that you surround yourself with things that are authentic and pleasing to you. So be it through visual art, colours, smells and – of course – sound, curating your space to really nurture our senses.

Patternity plants

What role does music play for you in all of this? Let’s hear some of your inspirations?

I think music and sound is hugely important to our process and wider purpose – it has been since the beginning as it was how Anna and I first met – in the club!

We either commission soundtracks or work with sound artists for our events, it’s an important part of crafting the space for tranquillity and creativity to flow. The soundtrack we commissioned for this event, starts off as a backdrop to the talk – an ambient collation of percussive sounds and gradually builds to a more rhythmical, industrial pace. The repetition of drums and beats can help focus and concentration and detach the analytical mind and reinstate the creative mind.

We listen to a real variety in the studio – it slightly depends on what we’re all working on and the time of day. Generally the mood is relaxed and meditative, playing world music like Midori Takada, Ethiopiques or bird song.

Maybe something a little more jazzy in the afternoon like Dorothy Ashby, Alice Coltrane and Cinematic Orchestra. The mellow rhythms of Suzanne Kraft, CFCF and Project Pablo are great for focus, but calming when I’m designing. Music is one of the simplest ways to craft or change the mood at home or in the studio – and there is always space for a disco classic to shake it all out!

Grace Winteringham


The London Sonos Studio

The London Design Festival at Sonos Studio

We’ve got a packed line-up down at the studio for this year’s London Design Festival. Join us to celebrate home listening through design, interiors and maker culture:

Workshop: ‘Relaxed Fluidity’ with Hole & Corner – Sat 17th & Sun 18th September

Our favourite craft journal Hole & Corner hosts two maker workshops celebrating music’s role in inspiring a more creative home. You’ll be able to craft some unique art guided by a custom playlist soundtrack from furniture designer Yinka Ilori (Saturday) and ceramicist Stephanie Buttle (Sunday).

Register for Yinka Ilori Workshop

 

Workshop: ‘Relaxed Fluidity’ with Hole & Corner - Sat 17th & Sun 18th September

Register for Stephanie Buttle Workshop

 

Workshop: ‘Relaxed Fluidity’ with Hole & Corner - Sat 17th & Sun 18th September

Talk: ‘Listening by Design’ with It’s Nice That  – Tuesday 20th September

The It’s Nice That crew host a panel discussion with three leading creatives to talk home, studios, workflow and how music shapes their day.

Speakers confirmed are photographer and founder-editor of hip-hop magazine BRICK Hayley-Louisa Brown, Ninja Tune-signed rapper and art director Kieren Gallear aka DELS and graphic designer Ben Drury, whose work includes the album cover of Dizzee Rascal’s scene-shaping debut album Boy In Da Corner.

Register for It’s Nice That Talk

Talk: ‘Listening by Design’ with It’s Nice That - Tuesday 20th September

Talk & Workshop: ‘Healthy Habits of Home’ with PATTERNITY – Wednesday 21st September

The girls from PATTERNITY explore the patterns that shape our homes and lives with de-cluttering coach Juliet Landau-Pope. Work out healthy habits, rituals and rhythms for a simplified home life. Then get hands-on with their block-printing workshop to create meaningful, personalised homeware to take home and enjoy.

Register for Healthy Habits Of Home Talk & Workshop

Talk & Workshop: ‘Healthy Habits of Home’ with PATTERNITY - Wednesday 21st September

Screening: ‘Exploring Design in Film’ with MUBI – Thursday 22nd September

Our friends at MUBI join us to celebrate cinema, home design and interiors with a special screening of Academy Award-winning thriller Ex Machina. Get down early to catch an introduction from the film’s production designer Mark Digby, hosted by Monocle’s Ben Rylan

Register for Ex Machina Screening

 

Screening: ‘Exploring Design in Film’ with MUBI - Thursday 22nd September


September Events at 101 Greene St.

September Events at 101 Greene St.

There's a lot going on at the Sonos flagship store. Come listen.

WEEK TWO

9/8 | GROUPLOVE Listening Session
Join the band for a rare pre-release premiere of their new album “Big Mess”. (6 - 8PM) 

WEEK THREE

9/12 | The First Listen - How To Dress Well "Care"
Join Tom Krell (How To Dress Well) at the store for a first listen of his new album "Care" before it arrives Sept. 23 on Domino Records. 

9/14 | The Big Quiet MediCircle
Get centered at 101 Greene St. as The Big Quiet hosts a guided meditation session. (8 - 10PM)

9/15 | Vinyl Me Please Happy Hour
Drinks on us. Soundtrack courtesy of our friends at Vinyl Me Please. (5 - 7PM)

WEEK FOUR

9/26 | Brooklyn Craft Terrarium Workshop
Come through to learn the art of terrarium building (in just 20 minutes) from the talented crew at Brooklyn Craft - and take home your finished terrarium at the end of the class. (5 - 8PM)

9/28 | Heavy Metal Happy Hour
Join us for complimentary beverages and heavy metal on the sound system, hosted by our friends at Metal Injection and MetalSucks. (5 - 7PM)

 


Your SONOS channels

Listening Out Loud Just Got Easier With Your Sonos App

scene-02-moview-clip

“You gotta listen to this one song. It’ll change your life, I swear.

When Natalie Portman’s manic pixie dreamgirl archetype dropped a knowledge bomb on a young Zach Braff in the form of The Shins, the moment represented way more than just an indie meet cute. In retrospect, it was a major sign of things to come: personalized song recommendations were gearing up to enter the mainstream. Half a year later, Braff’s Grammy-winning, platinum-selling compilation soundtrack for Garden State firmly established that a handpicked list of songs could be a legitimate musical form in its own right. And the modern playlist was born.

All of which sounds a little bizarre to our ears today. Was there really a time when playlists weren’t an essential part of how we listen to music? Yes – at least not in the way we’ve quickly accepted as normal. Sure, the radio always provided a sort-of playlist function, but its one-size-fits-all approach left out anyone who didn’t fit into its very specific (and repetitive) mold. The modern, personalized playlist is decidedly a result of modern technology. Without the CD burners and a-la-carte song purchases made possible by cutting-edge 2004 tech, collecting independent songs together simply couldn’t happen. And neither could playlists.

So the way we listen has always evolved alongside technology. And 2016 is no exception – in an age where streaming has opened up the world’s music to everyone, personalized playlists have exploded in diversity, quality, and abundance. Playlists are now designed around a rainbow of possible moods and life moments – everything from making breakfast in bed to spending the night hanging at home with your cats. Every genre, from Acid Jazz to Zydeco, can be explored at the touch of a button. And for those too independent to fit into any categories whatsoever, Spotify’s Discover Weekly and Apple Music’s ‘For You’ features personalize each list for an audience of one.

Your SONOS channels

The result is that all of us are able to access a world of music that was previously reserved for only the biggest collectors and record junkies. We’re listening differently. More and more Sonos listeners are choosing curated radio stations and custom playlists over individual tracks. Less time spent searching for single songs, more time spent filling your home with a continual flow of music. So in response, we’ve evolved our Sonos App to make this new style of listening as fast and easy as possible.

Speaking of ease, you’ll now be able to tap a song and have it play instantly, instead of having to select “Play Now” or “Play Next.” Not only that, but when that song ends Sonos will now immediately play whatever is next.

Tap_to_Play

For those times when curated playlists just aren’t cutting it and you want to build your own to perfectly compliment the mood, you still can! We know our faithful Sonos friends have grown quite used to the ins and outs of the current app, so rest assured you will never lose a queue you’ve built because you accidentally hit a song or are still getting used to hitting *** instead. It will always prompt you before you replace it with a new queue.
 Add_song

It all adds up to a faster connection between you and your music, designed for the way we listen now. So go ahead – update your Sonos and press play on a brand new playlist and listen out loud.

Already updated? Test out the improved playlist experience with one of our favorites.


Sounds of Seattle

Sounds of Seattle

Is there a better place to be than Seattle? Not if you ask the folks that call it home. We recently had the pleasure of getting together with some of Seattle’s finest under one fantastically designed Airbnb pad. Music was of course pouring through every room all weekend (as was the wine). So as a souvenir, we asked some of these fabulous folks to share their soundtrack to Seattle, the tracks that inspire them daily and fill their home.

Sub Pop Records

Sonos in Seattle - Day 1


“Seattle is our home. It’s simply impossible to imagine Sub Pop existing anywhere else. The music from this region and the community that supports it is not only vital to our success, it’s what inspires us to keep doing what we do.”

Seattle Seed Co.

Sonos in Seattle - Day 3


“It seems redundant to say that Seattle means everything to Seattle Seed Co., but it’s true.  This city has given us life that might not have been possible somewhere else.  Seattleites are passionate about global citizenship, sustainable living, and supporting local businesses, which are all the things that we stand for as an organic company.”

Mystery Made

Sonos in Seattle - Day 3


“Mystery Made is a design collective rooted in the Pacific Northwest, driven by three close friends with years of experience in action sports and brand design.  Mystery Made strives to elevate and innovate creative designs that communicate our clients’ products and ideas.  With the recent launch of their men’s boutique, the shop vibe embodies the authentic PNW outdoor feel from the moment you walk in the door.  The background music, reclaimed wood, campfire incense, and curated collection of clothing, goods and gifts truly reflect the modern Northwest pioneer.” 

8 Limbs Yoga

Sonos in Seattle - Hands in the Air


“In yoga philosophy there is a word, ‘Nada,’ which means deep listening, or to heighten one’s ability to tap into the primordial sound vibration that is present in everyone and everything. When I craft a yoga playlist I aim to create an atmosphere that lifts the practitioner up from the mundane towards a more extraordinary state of consciousness. Music is so important! To me, Seattle represents something a little rugged, a little innocent, a little bit heady. I hope this playlist can express the vibe of the city that shaped me!”