Metal is international. Bands tour the world, fans fly across continents to see shows and festivals. But on Spotify, it’s a different story.
Ever head over to Spotify and try to get an album to come up, only to find it grayed out?
That’s because Spotify, like many streaming services, uses geoblocking to restrict access to some parts of its catalog, depending on where you live.
The problem isn’t so much Spotify. Spotify’s aim is to have the biggest and best library so it can attract paying users away from rival services like Google Play Music.
Instead, the issue is usually record companies. Whoever holds the copyright for a recording is usually enmeshed in a web of agreements with a bunch of other entities, some of which own or partially own each other, about who can sell what where. These licensing deals determine what gets geoblocked.
But what if you don’t care about what a bunch of lawyers once said in a room? You have a subscription, you pay your money: you think you should get your choice.
There are ways to overcome georestrictions and access any content, wherever you are. The most effective is a VPN for Streaming.
VPNs work by doing two things: encrypting your traffic, and transporting it to another server.
That means it’s impossible for Spotify (or anyone else) to know where you really are.
And since most VPNs let you choose your own server (hint: all the good ones do), you can just keep trying ‘til you find a country where that rarity, album track or discography isn’t blocked.
VPNs typically cost just a few dollars a month; don’t be tempted by a ‘free’ one that might compromise your security, spy on you, sell your data and likely not work anyway. Instead, opt for a premium service — and remember that it’s not just Spotify you’ll be able to unblock.
Think of Youtube: they have a major geoblocking problem, enforced by demands from copyright holders. But if you just wanna see and hear the good stuff, a decent VPN will give you the keys to the kingdom.
What about Netflix? If you want to watch Lemmy or The Punk Singer, you’ll find that it helps to be — or appear to be — in the US.
What about VPN blockers?
Talking of Netflix, what about VPN blockers?
Blockers work in a bunch of different ways. Understandably, Netflix and others aren’t too open about how their blocking works, but often it works by something called ‘deep packet inspection.’ What this does is look at your traffic and see if it’s encrypted: if it is, they know you’re using a VPN.
Luckily, the current generation of VPNs have risen to the challenge. They use a range of techniques to disguise the fact that they’re VPNs at all, meaning you can listen to and watch anything you like, anonymously and safely.