Today we are guests in the Sonos office in Boston. It’s a beautiful office space with a two storey greenery wall, a kitchen that is full of free food and drinks plus lounge areas. It certainly doesn’t feel like an office!
Opening the presentation today, Patrick Spence, the newly appointed CEO of Sonos threw some interesting data into the audience. Sonos are seeing that the music streaming market is continually growing with Apple Music and Spotify the biggest players. A market with over 100,000,000 users at the moment and a confident projection of 1 billion users by 2020. This clearly plays out perfectly for Sonos – no CD or Cassette slots in their speakers.
If you were curious – Sonos as a company is doing very well with double digit financial growth. Interestingly 30% of their revenue comes from second time purchasers. This is something they’re obviously proud of and as they should be. If you bought a Play: 1, maybe you wanted another for the next room, or maybe you went big and bought their Play: Bar. Ultimately, you’re happy with your first purchase and you’re expanding the Sonos ecosystem at home.
We’ve reported on Amazon Alexa and Sonos integration in the past however today we saw our first demo of the technology working. On stage Antoine LeBlond, Vice President of Software at Sonos, did a live demo asking Alexa to stop music playback, start playback from David Bowie and ask what song was playing. This is done through simple hands-free commands, for example “Alexa, play David Bowie on Sonos” or “Alexa, what song is playing on Sonos?”. Antoine did go on to mention that the “on Sonos” part was something they want to remove, to make commands even simpler. Furthermore, Sonos are not doing this work exclusively with Alexa, they’re working with “others” too.
Joy Howard, Chief Marketing Officer at Sonos, took to the stage today to share a familiar story which we immediately related to. It was about her music journey in the house from the old iPod dock which was obsolete through adapter changes, the auxiliary connector which frustrated her to leave the phone behind, the bluetooth streaming which was interrupted by notifications and now to Wi-Fi on Sonos where she feels a sense of freedom again. It was because of the difficulties of the past that she realised music was less and less being played at home, it was all simply too difficult and now with Sonos, music has reentered the home. The same experience is true for this author where it took a product with convenience and ease of use to bring that shared music experience back.
Sonos has recently completed some work with Dr Daniel Levitin to survey 9000 people from 9 countries. Their results were interesting and many not surprising – just sad though.
- 60% listen to less music now than when they were younger
- 58% struggle to finish all their daily commitments – we’re all too busy
- 80% want more time with family and friends
- 2/3 people say more interactions happen in digital than in real life
- 44% are listening to music at home via headphones
- 58% need better work life balance
- Another survey conducted revealed that people feel too busy to participate in surveys…?
Ultimately, we’re time poor, communicating with people in real life less, and we’re listening to music straight into our ears also blocking out the people around us. The question becomes, when did this happen? When did we decide to sit near someone and listening to music personally rather than share it with the whole room?
Sonos has a marketing campaign (video above) kicking off at the Grammy’s to hopefully change this. Their commercial which will run in multiple countries depicts the sad world we’re all wired into and shows the changes a Sonos speaker will create. People dancing, couples making love and happy dinner parties surrounded by music. What we loved about the commercial was that it wasn’t full of big vibrating speakers and visuals of speaker cones popping around the place, it was scenes that we believe in, music is part of it and speakers are just the tools in the background making it happen. This aligns with something Dr Daniel Levitin said when he first tested a Sonos speaker “I stopped listening to the speaker and started listening to the music”. That really is what Sonos does, you stop looking at the speaker, start looking at one another and just enjoy the music. It’s fascinating that Sonos builds this into their design philosophy to create speakers that aren’t looked at.
Lastly, Sonos today made a huge announcement under embargo. We saw, we heard, we experienced something from Sonos coming later this year, we’ll be ready with all the info for you at that time.
Geoff Quattromani travelled to Boston as a guest of Sonos