Music | January 14, 2021 7:27 am

The Best Artist-Curated Shows on Every Streaming Radio Platform

Bjork, D'Angelo and FKA twigs just got their own channels on Sonos Radio HD, part of a growing trend in streaming

D'Angelo just launched his own station on Sonos Radio HD

If you want to know more about your favorite music, ask the artist who made it.

And more often than not these days, said artist has their own show or curated station on a streaming service. The most recent examples arrive via Sonos, which just announced four new artist-curated stations, with one starting this week by D’Angelo and the rest (including Bjork) debuting throughout winter on Sonos Radio HD, a paid service that’s ad-free but that you can only access on Sonos devices.

“These stations are direct lines into the minds of creators, and opportunities to hear what fuels their creativity in a fresh, raw way,” says Brian Beck, Global Head of Music at Sonos. “We’re giving listeners a chance to find new music by flipping through the personal record collections of some of the most private but influential artists of our time.” (Note: Sonos Radio HD has more exclusive content than Sonos Radio, a free listening tier that also requires Sonos equipment to access. You can read a review of that streaming experience here.)

The reason is simple: While Apple Music’s Zane Lowe might be a veteran DJ and excellent cultural tastemaker, casual listeners to that free streamer would probably prefer to seek out dedicated hour-long shows hosted by the likes of Elton John, Billie Eilish and Lady Gaga.

And while the future of terrestrial radio (now celebrating its century mark) is muddled, Sonos says they’re seeing a 40% year-over-year increase in listening hours on their products. And even with over 100 other streaming services on the platform, Sonos Radio HD is currently their fourth most listened to service since its launch last April. So people want some of radio’s elements, and star power and curation could be a major factor in retaining those listeners.

Below, some of the best artist-run shows and stations you can currently stream:

Sonos Radio HD: The hi-def streaming service kicked off in November with Songteller Radio, a Dolly Parton-hosted and curated station. And the next two months will see channel debuts led by D’Angelo, FKA twigs, Björk and The Chemical Brothers. D’Angelo’s station, Feverish Fantazmagoria, sounds particularly inspired. Says the artist: “It includes some crate digging; a lot of psych rock and funk rock in there, even some gospel and soul. Just a lot of incredible music that’s fun and inspires me.” 

Bjork’s curated station, 21 years worth of wave files liquidated into a stream, launches Feb. 24. The Icelandic singer describes the station as follows on Instagram: “I am quite thrilled to have had a reason to go through 21 years of music-file collecting .. since my first laptop i have been cd shopping , awkward cassette finding , vinyl searching in secret stores on my travels and gathered them all into a library of gorgeous wave-files . it was only a question of time before i would share them and then in yet another form : them clouds and streams.”

Sonos Radio: Sonos’s free tier includes stations curated by Thom Yorke and Brittany Howard, with the Radiohead frontman producing what we described in our early review as a “soundtrack of glitchy, cool, proggy, obscure and discordant tunes with artists ranging from The Mahavishnu Orchestra to Tierra Whack.”

Apple Music

Apple Music: The somewhat-recently rebranded Beats 1 has become three free streaming stations: Apple Music 1, Apple Music Hits and Apple Music Country (all of which have on-demand access and playlists for shows for paid subscribers). Within those platforms, you’ll get hosted shows by Action Bronson, Billie Eilish, Ciara, Elton John, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Nile Rodgers, Travis Scott, Charlie Sloth, Mark Hoppus, Huey Lewis, Snoop Dogg, Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan, among many others.

SiriusXM: Besides an array of celebrity DJ sessions across the various streaming/satellite radio stations that includes hour-long sessions with Cardi B, Billy Joel and Jack Johnson, you have stations here curated and/or devoted to the likes of Pitbull, Elvis, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, the Beatles, LL Cool J, Eminem, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and U2, with the latter offering quite a bit of dedicated content from the band itself.

Questlove Supreme

Podcasts: These shows aren’t usually limited to a single platform, though they may not contain music (merely observations and interviews, due to licensing issues). That said, some standouts include Turned Out a Punk by Fucked Up vocalist Damian Abraham, Questlove Supreme by Questlove, The Watt from Pedro Show by Mike Watt, Broken Record with Rick Rubin (among others), and Walking the Floor with Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett.

BBC Radio: Iggy Pop hosts a weekly radio show on BBC 6 that’s free to stream and is on demand for about a month.