Sonos for Business: What Is and Isn’t Legal

When it comes to playing music in your business, sound quality matters. Adding static to the sound can cause intense irritation, and distortion of the notes can make all of your careful playlist planning go to waste.

Choosing the right sound system can help you ensure that the music you choose performs as well in real life as it does within your imagination. You have plenty of exceptional speaker types to choose from, including Sonos.

While you can use the Sonos system within a business, there are several very important steps you will need to take to ensure that you comply with copyright laws. The system could also come with logistical challenges for some types of businesses, so you will need to think before you buy.

Here is what you need to know.

What Products Should You Buy?

Sonos makes speakers for the home market, and many of the products the company offers are designed for family use. These units combine a speaker, a receiver, and a digital assistant into one small, box-like device that can sit on a bookshelf, hidden from view.

The company does, however, make a few products for larger homes that might be just right for a small business.

The four-room set, for example, includes a main receiver (the Sonos One) along with four different speakers. Those speakers could be scattered around a business environment, filling the space with rich sound. You can add more speakers to this set if your space is so large that you need a bigger audio presence.

Match these products with Sonos Pro, and you’ll get more.

Sonos Pro is designed for business owners. A monthly fee provides you with ad-free music licensed by independent artists. You can monitor and control your speakers from anywhere, and you can create automated schedules for the tunes you play. You can also create an approved music library and set volume limits.

How Much Will Sonos Cost?

Your Sonos fees will vary dramatically depending on how many speakers you buy and how you want to set them up. However, you can expect at least a few fees with this type of system.

These fees are common in people who use Sonos systems:

  • Speakers: Sonos speakers range in price from under $75 to more than $500. The more you purchase and the stronger they are, the more you will pay.
  • Brackets: If you want to mount your speakers on the wall or near the ceiling, you’ll need to pay for them.
  • Installation: If you’re not comfortable putting the system together and securing it to the wall and ceiling, you’ll have to pay for that.
  • Subscription: If you sign up for Sonos Pro, you’ll pay a monthly fee of $35 or more.

A traditional audio system (like a radio with two speakers) may be a lot less expensive. However, Sonos comes with lots of control and exceptional sound quality. The fees you pay may be worthwhile.

How Sonos Speakers Connect

As a company, Sonos is differentiated by a commitment to Wi-Fi technology. Unlike other wireless systems, which rely on Bluetooth technology to connect to one another, Sonos uses Wi-Fi. According to CNET Wi-Fi is preferable to audiophiles. The sound quality is superior, and connected devices can be farther apart than they must be for Bluetooth technology to work properly.

A reliance on Wi-Fi means you can control several speakers, even if those speakers are far from one another, with one centralized form of control. An additional benefit, according to the review site Wirecutter, is that you can control each speaker independently. You can turn up the volume on one speaker while leaving the other at its preset volume with one control.

Sonos systems run on an app, which can be accessed with any Apple device. You will use your device to pull up the music you would like to play, and that device will stream the sounds to the speakers you have selected.

Sonos Speaker Sound Quality

Typically, product review articles include technical specifications about input and output. It’s difficult to provide this type of information for Sonos, as the company makes such a wide array of products. Some are made to fill a whole room with music, while others are made for just one person. Obviously, the technical specs between these two types of products are very different.

Reviewers from organizations like The Verge and Wired agree that Sonos speakers, regardless of the type, are exceptional. They cite things like the speaker’s balanced sound signature, pristine clarity, and big power in a small package.

Alternatives to Sonos include things like Bose, but it’s a product that comes with a convoluted setup. Google speakers can be helpful too, but they can be highly sensitive to touch controls. In general, Sonos is a great option for people who want a multi-location audio setup at a reasonable price point.

Setting Up Sonos at Work

Once you’ve chosen Sonos and your speakers have arrived, you’ll follow a few basic steps to get set up. Some procedures are shared among all settings, while others are very specific to your business environment.

To set up speakers in any environment, follow these steps:

  • Connect your speakers to a power source.
  • Download the Sonos app to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Use WiFi or plug your speaker into your router.
  • Open your app and follow the steps you’re provided. The program will guide you through setting up the system.

Your Sonos speakers require a high-speed wired internet connection, such as cable or DSL. You’ll need a WiFi router too. If you’d rather hardwire your speakers, you can use an Ethernet cable. In WiFi mesh networks, Sonos products must be wired to the primary mnesh mode if you’re using a wired setup.

Sonos technicians are available via phone or live chat. If you’re confused about how to set them up or can’t get them to work, professionals are available to help you.

Here’s what you need to know about using Sonos in specific environments.

Small Businesses

Sonos offers a robust community forum in which consumers ask questions about how the products work and how they should be used. In one forum posting, a consumer asked if the Sonos system could be used in a business environment. A Sonos staffer replied that the system can be used at work, but larger businesses with multiple buildings might struggle with connectivity. According to this staffer, smaller businesses should find the system works well.

Those businesses might include:

  • Yoga studios
  • Salons
  • Small offices

Setting up Sonos in an environment like this is relatively easy. Find a central location in your space that can radiate music in all directions, and plug and play. People may see your speakers, but they’ll also hear your sounds.

Restaurants & Coffee Shops

Placing speakers on tabletops and countertops may not be the best option in these environments. Your customers need that space for the products they’re hoping to purchase and consume.

You may need to place your Sonos speakers in tucked-away spaces, such as on the top of cupboards or mounted on the ceiling. Ensure that they’re connected to the receiver and working before you mount them, so you don’t need to put them up and take them down again.

What Music Can You Play?

Sonos is a wireless system that is designed to integrate with both personal copies of digital music, such as the music you might have on your phone, and streaming services that push music to your digital devices.

While it might be perfectly legal and even ideal to use Sonos in a business setting, different issues arise when you begin to consider what music you can play with your Sonos speakers.

Most of us are familiar with music streaming services. According to Billboard, 41 percent of the time we listen to music, we use streaming. When we want tunes to accompany us, we turn to services like Pandora and Spotify.

Unfortunately, these services are designed for personal use. In fact, according to the Spotify website, terms and conditions for the service state that the music should be played for personal entertainment only. People who want to play music within a business are encouraged to sign up for a different, more expensive, form of the service.

Difficulties for business can arise when people do not heed these warnings, and they bring up Spotify or tap into their own playlists and start spinning tunes. Employees can also be part of the problem if they hijack the system and override the plans a business owner puts into place regarding music choices.

When you play music within your business, it is considered a public performance. The only exceptions, according to ASCAP, involve music performed as a teaching activity within a nonprofit educational institution or music played or sung as part of a worship service that is not transmitted elsewhere. In most cases, you are required to get permission and pay for the music you use.

We can help. At Pandora CloudCover, we offer a streaming service that lets you choose the music that's right for your customers.

Connecting to Sonos is easy - you can connect to an AirPlay 2, or use the Sonos Play:5 or Sonos Connect to connect to multiple speakers over WiFi. Refer to this guide for any additional help connecting to your Sonos speakers.

We have also negotiated relationships with the copyright holders of the songs you love, so you will have the legal right to play those tunes while knowing we are taking care of the fees and the contracts. There will be no need to worry or fret, as we'll have all of the logistics covered.

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