Why now?

For 15 years, we’ve focused our business squarely on helping our customers experience the life-changing power of music by building and selling great-sounding wireless home audio systems. We need to do more to fight for our values as a company.

Why music?

At Sonos, music drives everything we do. It’s our core. We believe in protecting universal human rights and liberties, but music represents the heart of our purpose as a company. And by working to protect and promote music, we will also act according to our belief that greater freedom for music means greater freedom for all other forms of expression, such as journalism, film and protest – and vice versa.

Does music need promoting and protecting? Seems like it’s doing just fine.

Unfortunately, music faces mounting threats in today’s world. Too many artists face barriers when it comes to free expression and access to information. Communities lack space and resources to ensure all musicians can be heard. We’re failing to foster a new generation of music lovers prepared for success in the modern economy. Music, along with film, suffers more violations to artistic freedom than any other art forms. Our failure to protect music is a failure to protect the basic liberties of all people.

What does Sonos know about activism?

That’s why we’ve decided to focus on listening and supporting frontline activists. It’s vital that we recognize both our strengths and weaknesses as a business. We know how to make great speakers and connect them wirelessly better than anyone. We aren’t activists; others do that, not us. We want to use our unique resources – including expansive communications capabilities, financial resources, a large audience that shares a love of music, our strong relationships with music artists – to act in service of organizations on the frontlines. And over time, through listening, we will learn to be activists ourselves and build credibility in that world.

Is this all about free expression? Musicians face a lot more barriers.

This is about much more than free expression. We’ve identified three key objectives that will support our chief mission to protect and promote the future of music. They are:

  • Fighting music censorship and promoting free expression.
  • Ensuring new technologies and the internet foster a healthy, diverse sonic culture for artists and listeners.
  • Supporting music education in underserved communities and inspiring the next generation of artists, engineers and scientists.

How much are we committing to this effort?

We’ve committed $1.5 million of unrestricted grants over the next three years to fund grassroots organizations working on our five key mission objectives.

How would you summarize your approach? What makes it different?

Our approach is designed to achieve meaningful, lasting impact on behalf of our mission by following these five key principles:

  • Start Locally – build a global network of grassroots NGOs.
  • Support Broadly – giving modest grants to more groups.
  • Offer Our Spaces – to help activists do what they do best.
  • Listen & Learn – lay the groundwork to use our voice later on.
  • Stay Focused – let our mission objectives guide us at every turn.

How often will you issue grants?

We will launch the Listen Better Grant platform in early 2018, issuing an initial round of grants. From there, grants will be issued on an annual basis moving forward.

How do I apply?

When the Listen Better Grant platform launches, there will be an application process that will be managed from this website. In the meantime, please share your information here and we will share regular updates with you on all Listen Better activity.

How will this model of giving small grants make an impact?

In designing our strategy for Listen Better, we did a lot of research and – most importantly – listened to the grassroots organizations working on the frontlines to create change on behalf of our mission and objectives. We asked them: How can Sonos create the most positive impact for you and other organizations like yours? Our approach stemmed from these key learnings:

  • The most lasting change comes from the ground up. Every $1 invested by grant-makers in policy advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement provides a $115 return in community benefit, according to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.
  • Traditional corporate foundations disproportionately support the biggest NGOs, leaving grassroots groups underfunded. 2.3% of nonprofits account for 90% of total nonprofit revenue in the U.S., according to Nonprofit News.
  • Community-based endeavors are especially in need of support. We heard this loud and clear in our roundtable with activists.