My day starts with an awesomely chaotic mash-up of radio, podcasts and playlists battling it out across bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. It ends in the evening, when we all converge (more or less) on something we all love hearing. I’m fortunate that all day in between, I’m surrounded by music that inspires me, makes me laugh, or amps me up to slay a project like a heavy metal goddess of thunder.
But I know that isn’t everyone’s reality.
Somewhere over the past decade or so, we got so enamored with music’s portability that we somehow lost our connection to listening to it out loud back home. Out went radios, CDs, treasured mixtapes and vinyl, and in came mp3s, playlists, streaming services and podcasts. At this moment, when our access to music has never been bigger, the experience of listening to it has never been smaller. Music has been privatized for listening alone in a world that has you always on the go.
“For us, music is the nae-nae inducing, flavor enhancing, face melting difference between a house and a home.”
Come back home. Come back to the one place where you can listen to music out loud… together. Home for me is the place where I connect with the people I want to be with most and reconnect with what makes me me. Music is a big part of that. It lifts me up, calms me down, brings us together, gets wacky and makes the sparks fly. For us, music is the nae-nae inducing, flavor enhancing, face melting difference between a house and a home. And even on those days when the dishes and honey-do’s pile up, music turns my home into a place of vital experience, a place to explore culture, a place filled with beauty—and I still get the laundry done. Sometimes.
At Sonos, our mission is to fill every home with music. That means we also want to keep music alive as a way to celebrate and build our shared culture. Music keeps us connected to our own humanity, and so our home audio technology must be human too. It has to be simple for you to get music from the sky instantly and play it anywhere beautifully.
Sonos speakers are elegantly complex pieces of technology that we hope you’ll forget all about – because the music is the thing. We don’t want you listening to a speaker. We want you getting lost in the music. Filling your home with it. Experiencing it. Loving it! That’s making technology disappear and life reappear.
Turns out it takes some pretty talented technologists to make technology disappear, and we’ve long had the most talented crew in the business. Our engineers have enabled us to create a deceptively simple family of products meant to bring streaming music to your home—long before most of us even knew what streaming meant.
“Audio is engineering. Music is art. Realizing that we aren’t just a tech company– but a music company too– has allowed us to put artists at the very center of how we create products.”
Around 2008, we realized that although we had the best 1s and 0s, the gulf between speaker and music was the artist. Audio is engineering. Music is art. Realizing that we aren’t just a tech company– but a music company too– has allowed us to put artists at the very center of how we create products.
We do that when our colleague Giles Martin in Abbey Road Studios obsesses over the new PLAY:5, ensuring it sounds as natural and close to the original recordings as possible without any unnecessary hype in any direction. We do it when we collaborate with Rick Rubin on free software that tunes both your new and existing Sonos speakers to your rooms. When Q-Tip suggests we show people how easy it is to to use the app, I invite him to do just that. When Gary Clark Jr. leaves the studio every night and goes home to play back the day’s work on Sonos, he’s using our product as the gold standard of listening out loud.
We’ve largely kept these collaborations under wraps—not because we don’t want to trumpet the amazing talent being brought to bear on all of our products, but because it’s so easy to be mistaken for a brand that’s borrowing cool. Too often that means paying artists to endorse a poor quality product. While we always compensate artists fairly for their time—whether they’re employees, advisers or performers—we’re not about endorsements. We’re about working with artists to make the listening experience better. The world is full of brands that use famous people in commercials to sell shiny objects. Maybe that basketball player really did help design that razor and perhaps that musician flavored that water. Who knows? I do know that at Sonos, the artist is deeply in the mix right alongside our engineers, designers and marketers. Sometimes it makes us crazy, but mostly it makes us better.
Working on the campaign we’re launching now has been as challenging and awkward as it has been awesome. How do you put artists at the center of everything you do—including your ads—without looking like every other bullshit brand? We had hours of healthy debate and no shortage of heartfelt conversations with each other, and with the artists too. It was lovely to discover how much hard earned respect we’ve garnered with artists over the last 12 years—and that they are as delighted to work with us as we are with them.