Posted on

Sonos Service’s Little Secret

Sonos Banner Slacker Out

I learned something new about my Sonos music players this morning that I REALLY don’t like.

EVERYTHING you do with Sonos is handled through a centralized Sonos server.   

Want to play your Slacker music?  Sonos servers manage that for you.    Pandora?   Amazon Music?   ANY music that you thought was on YOUR account at the music service provider?  Sonos gets in the middle.

My assumption, which is clearly incorrect, was that once you set up your Sonos controller app on your tablet and paired it to a Sonos speaker and added your favorite music service, Sonos got out of the way.  I figured they maintained an account profile on a Sonos server that keeps what music services and stations you like, but after the “initial handshake” to share those details with your mobile app the Sonos servers handed everything off.    Sure, if you add a new station or add a new service the app talk to the Sonos server, but when playing music… that must be between the app itself and the music service only, right?


That is so wrong.

Sonos Servers In The Middle

EVERYTHING you do with Sonos goes through their server.   Skip a song?  Your Sonos controller sends that command to a centralized Sonos server which in turn relays the command to Slacker and then returns the Slacker response to your app and all the Sonos components in your house.

Not a big deal, right?

Well, it sort of is a big deal.

Slacker Offline at Sonos
Slacker Offline at Sonos

The BIGGEST issue is that any time Sonos servers crash you cannot play your music.    How often does THAT happen?   Servers NEVER crash these days, right?  WRONG.    Today Sonos servers are broken.  They cannot talk to the Slacker servers.   That means NOT A SINGLE SONOS PLAYER IN THE WORLD can play Slacker music.   Slacker from ANY OTHER DEVICE?  No problem.    Your $300 Sonos Play 3? Nope?  The $500 Play 5?  Nope.    The $2000 worth of paired speakers from Sonos… NO SLACKER.   Sorry.   Someone at Sonos messed up, or one of their vendors, or someone that manages the Sonos account at Slacker… regardless of whom is to blame… if you own Sonos equipment you cannot access your Slacker stations.

That sucks.  Especially since Slacker is my go-to premium music service and all this Sonos equipment + Slacker premium music channels with thousands of rated and custom-curated stations is now useless to me.


Sonos Problems Are Your Problems

Even more important are the revelations of what this means:

– If Sonos goes out of business your Sonos hardware is useless.

– If Sonos screws up and writes bad server software your Sonos controller and hardware apps will break.

– If the people managing the Sonos servers, whether in the cloud of self-hosted, mess up and the servers crash your Sonos system is unusable.

– If the vendor that provides the network connections cuts a line and the network goes down at Sonos your equipment is a very expensive paper weight.

In other words, if ANYTHING goes wrong over in “Sonos Server World” your costly music hardware suddenly looks like a bad investment.


Music Privacy?

We don’t even need to discuss privacy issues, do we?    Not that I listen to anything that would raise and eyebrow of even the most prudish conservative listeners out there… OK, well maybe that is not QUITE true with thins like Eminem on my playlists, BUT I certainly am not listening to things like “live sex talk” on Sonos…. BUT…. if I were to do so guess who would be able to keep a record of all that?  Sonos.   Yup, that’s right.    Sonos is listening… and it only takes on hack from the our government friends over at the NSA for them to be seeing EVERYTHING YOU LISTEN TO thanks to the centralized Sonos servers.

Welcome To The NSA
Welcome To The NSA

I don’t ever recall being notified that Sonos has access to my bans or favorites, what stations I listen to, when I listen to them… but they do it.    Did I accept that intrusion in some privacy policy somewhere?  One of those “click if you agree” boxes I NEVER READ (trust me, if you did you’d NEVER accept ANY OF THEM and you’d have ZERO access to technology… go read the Android release, or FaceBook, or Twitter, or Google… to paraphrase all of them “we can do whatever the hell we damn like, if you don’t like it… leave”)…

Yup, it sucks.   I can’t use Slacker today because someone over at Sonos or at one of their vendors screwed up.

Yes, Sonos is very likely tracking all of my likes and dislikes without my knowledge or consent.

But I still like the system and my techno-geek DNA will not let me STOP using the service because of it.

Now I just have to sit-and-wait until someone over as Sonos fixes this mess.

In the meantime, at least I can feel good about at least telling SOMEONE that Sonos is “listening” to you… so now you are at least a little more informed than I was up until a few hours ago.