An Inevitable Collab: Why Sonos and Beastie Boys Teamed Up to Make a New Play:5

Beastie Boys

The story behind our partnership with Beastie Boys—and the new limited edition Play:5 featuring artwork by Barry McGee–goes all the way back to the earliest days of Sonos.


Sometime in mid-2004, John MacFarlane sat in a cluttered Santa Barbara office, assembling a remote control for the wireless streaming receiver he and his business partners had been working on for their fledgling home audio company. Wanting to test the new remote, called the CR100, MacFarlane decided to play some music for the two-person quality assurance team. “It was about 7 or 8 pm and I knew it was going to be a late night,” MacFarlane recalls. “Beastie Boys ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ seemed appropriate.”

It worked. That song—the first ever to successfully play on Sonos—blasted through a pair of prototype players into the cramped workspace at full volume. What did not yet work, however, were the volume controls. The startled team members scattered from the room, suddenly concerned more with their own sensory disruption than any of the technological variety.

Sonos cofounder John MacFarlane in the company’s early days.
Sonos cofounder John MacFarlane in the company’s early days.

Sonos has come a long way since then, expanding on those early devices to build a pioneering wireless home sound system capable of filling every room with clear, brilliant sound from virtually any source—from dozens of streaming services to the depths of your vinyl collection, and then some. Oh, and not only did we fix that pesky volume control issue, but have opened up a whole slew of ways to control Sonos–from swiping and tapping on apps and physical buttons, to simply asking out loud.

For our latest project, we couldn’t help but bring things full circle. Beastie Boys are back on Sonos in a whole new way–and the volume buttons work just fine.

Collaborating with Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond of Beastie Boys, we recently created a special edition Play:5 that celebrates the band’s iconoclastic influence in music and pop culture and commemorates the release Beastie Boys Book, a memoir as innovative and surprising as Beastie Boys themselves.

The limited-run speaker features work by renowned San Francisco artist Barry McGee, who used a bold graphic suggestive of Beastie Boys’ genre-splintering style.

“Beastie Boys always adapted their style to each moment, and the albums get better with time,” McGee says. “I wanted to use graphics in the same spirit- something abrasive that rewards a closer look. The speaker has a pretty contemporary and clean design, so I used a pattern that disrupts the front of the speaker but still complements it.”

All proceeds from the collaboration will be given to Peace Sisters and Little Kids Rock in the name of the Adam Yauch Foundation.

You can check out the speaker here and sign up to learn more.

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