Spotify is what could only be described as a ‘game-changer’. Since it first launched back on 7 October 2008, it has been at the vanguard of an online streaming revolution which has fundamentally changed the way people listen to music forever.
If you are not in the know already, Spotify is an online music streaming service which is regarded by many as the best in the business. There are two basic ways you can use Spotify. Either you can pay a monthly subscription fee, after which you are able to listen to as much music as you like for as long as you like; or alternatively, you can listen for free, but must accept that after every two or three songs, Spotify will run an advert.
For users, Spotify has made listening to music affordable, simple, and mobile. The service can be used on smartphones and tablets as well as on computers meaning you can access the music you like whenever you want to.
Indeed, there is arguably just one problem with Spotify, which is that it is not a universal service. In many countries, Spotify is blocked and listeners who are travelling, either for work or pleasure or those who are resident in countries where the service is not available, are missing on the myriad of pleasures Spotify has to offer.
But there is a solution to the geo-blocking which makes Spotify unavailable in many parts of the world. And that solution is a VPN.
With a VPN, you are able to change your IP Address and so fool the Spotify servers that you are logging in from either the USA or Europe, where the service is primarily available. This means that with a VPN you can enjoy Spotify no matter where you are in the world.
It is almost as simple as that. But there is a bit more to it than that. Not every VPN is able to unblock Spotify and others are not suitable for streaming music on a regular basis. Some might have a data limit or simply not offer fast enough connection speeds.
For that reason, it is vital that users choose the right VPN to unblock Spotify. And that is what this article is all about. Keeping reading and we will lay out the core criteria to look for in a VPN to use with Spotify before outlining our top recommendations.
How we tested
As we noted above, there are a number of core criteria you should be looking for in a VPN to use to unblock Spotify. Some VPNs can do the job with ease, whilst others will be less efficient.
There is nothing more frustrating than being able to access a service but then not being able to get it to function properly, which is why it is important to get the choice of VPN right. With that in mind, we have drawn up a list of criteria and then assessed all the main VPN providers on the market to see which best fit what is needed.
The criteria we have applied in order to reach our decision are:
- An established VPN provider with a proven record of unblocking regionally restricted sites
- Ability to unblock Spotify around the world
- Fast and consistent connection speeds which enable a smooth streaming service
- Availability on multiple platforms, including mobile devices
- Strong security and privacy provisions
- A good selection of servers from markets where Spotify is available – principally the USA and Europe.
With these criteria as our starting point, we have identified four VPNs which we are confident will both unblock Spotify around the world and also provide a connection suitable for streaming audio content.
Four best VPNs for Spotify
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Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the VPN market will be aware of ExpressVPN. They are one of the most recognizable and well-regarded brands on the market. And this is because, quite simply, they are one of the best.
Their service is available across a wide range of platforms and operating systems, and they also offer dedicated apps for iOS and Android devices meaning it is ideal for those who like to enjoy Spotify on the go.
They are as secure and private as a VPN can get too, with their entire network is SSL secured with 256-bit encryption and trustworthy and robust privacy policies which are guaranteed as they are based in the British Virgin Islands, where local laws require no user data to be retained.
Their connection speeds are top of the range as well, with fast and reliable connections available on just about every server on their service. And they have a lot of servers; more than 1,500 in total across 94 countries with a disproportionate number of these in the USA and Europe. This means there are more than enough options available for Spotify users to choose from.
ExpressVPN is available in pretty much every country around the world too meaning that no matter where you live or how much you travel, ExpressVPN will be there to attend to your Spotify needs.
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If ExpressVPN sounds like a hard act to follow, then NordVPN run them about as close as it is possible to. NordVPN is another established VPN brand which has stuck around for a long time because the service they offer is so great.
They are marginally cheaper than ExpressVPN, but that doesn’t mean there is a noticeable compromise in the service they offer. They are also available on just about any platform you can name and have dedicated apps for all the big mobile Operating Systems as well.
Security-wise, NordVPN are not quite at the same levels as ExpressVPN, but with 256-bit encryption on OpenVPN with 2,048-bit Diffie-Hellman keys, their encryption is more than sufficiently strong for almost all users. Privacy is at the heart of NordVPN and they are based in Panama which, like ExpressVPN in the British Virgin Islands, mean they do not have to retain any customer data whatsoever, and they don’t.
You might read some other reviews that suggest NordVPNs are not quite on a par with other premium services. I have never come across this problem myself, particularly when using Spotify, but I know NordVPN are currently updating many of their servers to ‘ultra-fast’ connections which should address this issue if you do encounter it.
They offer a total of more than 1,000 servers across 59 countries with the USA and Europe again strongly represented. This means there is plenty of choice for Spotify fans to get the service up and running around the world.
And should Spotify decide to try and block VPNs from accessing the service, as Netflix and the BBC iPlayer (to name but two) have recently tried to do, NordVPN also has a built-in technology called SmartPlay which they guarantee can get around any attempt to block their service, as they successfully do with both Netflix and the BBC iPlayer.
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IPVanish is another big name on the VPN scene and this is again down to the fact that the service they offer is up there with the very best. It is also an ideal provider for Spotify users.
They are closer in price to ExpressVPN than NordVPN, but IPVanish is again available on all the usual platforms and mobile devices and offers a specialized app for mobile users. When it comes to security, IPVanish has both L2TP and OpenVPN protocols using 256-bit encryption as standard. This is a pretty solid encryption provision.
As far as privacy goes, we also have no complaints so far, but we are a bit more cautious on this recommendation. That is because whilst IPVanish does not keep any user logs, they are registered in the USA, where the current government is being less than supportive to online privacy. Whilst the US does not have any data retention laws which affect VPNs at the moment, there is some reason to think this might introduced at some point, and so is something users should be conscious of.
On speeds, IPVanish is back at the top of its game, with fast reliable connections on all of its servers (although personally, I find speeds a little faster on servers located closer to my actual location).
They have a huge Server selection for you to choose from once again, with more than 750 servers in more than 60 countries. This includes no fewer than 300 in the USA and 288 in Europe. More than enough for every Spotify user to find one to call their own.
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VyprVPN is another well-known name in the VPN world, but one which only just makes it onto this list as a result of their privacy provisions which are far from satisfactory.
First, the good stuff and VyprVPNs actual service is more than good enough to use to unblock Spotify around the world. They are again available on multiple platforms including all the big mobile devices.
Security-wise they have plenty to offer as well with an encryption policy which is on a par with any of the other services already listed.
Their connections are definitely fast enough for streaming music on Spotify, but in my personal opinion, sometimes not quite at the same level as the other three VPNs on this list. They are however consistent and as they own their own network, speeds are certainly not usually an issue.
They also have more than 700 servers available and offer plenty in the USA and Europe to keep Spotify users happy.
But let’s now address the issues regarding privacy. Unlike the other VPNs on this list, VyprVPN does keep user connection logs. This includes such data such as the User’s home IP Address, the VyprVPN IP Address you connected to, the connection start and stop time, and the amount of data transferred.
Now, I accept that this might not concern some Spotify users, but many more will not want the possibility of Spotify, or even the rights holders of the music they are listening to, to be able to find out they have been listening outside the services permitted areas. And unlike the others, VyprVPN are unable to guarantee this. If this does not worry you, VyprVPN is more than capable of unblocking and streaming Spotify around the world. But if it does, one of the other three VPNs on this list are a much better bet.
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What is Spotify?
Spotify is a music and podcast streaming service which originated in Sweden and was launched onto the world on 7th October 2008.
It is classed as a ‘freemium service’ which means that for those who choose not to subscribe, the service is available for free, but with adverts. Regular users also have the option to pay a small monthly subscription, which varies from country to country, to access Spotify’s content without adverts.
Spotify provides a wide-range of content which it sources from record labels and media content by buying up streaming rights. Depending on the agreements reached, each time a user streams a track on Spotify, a small fee will be paid to the label and in turn artist, or they will get a small split of the advertising revenue they generate.
However, the service has been criticized by a number of high-profile musicians, including Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke of Radiohead, for the small amounts of compensation artists get for their work. Rights holders received an between $.006 and $.0084 per play on average, with less going to the artists themselves.
In 2009, a Swedish musician called Magnus Uggla took his music off Spotify and claimed that in six months he had earned “what a mediocre busker could earn in a day”. In March 2012, Patrick Carney of the Black Keys claimed that “Spotify isn’t fair to artists” and said royalties from streams could never replace royalties earned from record sales. And David Byrne of Talking Heads said in October 2013 that “If artists have to rely almost exclusively on the income from [Spotify and other such services], they’ll be out of work within a year.”
Record labels, however, are happy with their return from services like Spotify which goes some way to explaining why the service is able to offer such a broad range of content. Spotify claims to offers listeners more than 30 million songs to choose from.
Artist criticisms have also not stopped music fans from signing up in their droves as well. As of March 2017, Spotify had more than 50 million users paying a monthly subscription fee and countless more using the service, with adverts, for free.
Where is Spotify available?
Spotify is available in a number of different countries around the world, but it is not a universal service. Users can currently access Spotify online in most European, North, and South American countries, as well as parts of Asia and Australasia.
The full list of countries where you can access Spotify is Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.
That is a big list of countries, but obviously, there are a number of sizable markets still missing. The reason it is not available elsewhere in the world is a simple one; it all comes down to rights.
Why is Spotify not available everywhere?
Spotify’s content is available as a result of rights agreements it has reached with the owners of the copyright of the music; invariably record labels or music publishing forms. However, they do not hold the rights to all of their content across the globe, with rival services also bidding for the same rights.
This means that Spotify is not legally allowed to make its music available in every country around the world, much as it would like to.
They are therefore required to block access to their service in countries where they do not hold rights to their content. And to do this they use a technique known as geo-blocking.
What is Geo-blocking?
Geo-blocking is a simple process which allows a service like Spotify to identify where a visitor to their website is located and therefore whether or not to allow them to access their service.
It works by looking at each user’s IP Address. Your IP (or Internet Protocol) Address is a numerical code which is transmitted by your internet connection to every website and service you visit. It includes information which allows the site to identify exactly where in the world you are logging from on.
Therefore, if Spotify sees that your IP Address is from a location where they do not hold the rights to stream their music, they will simply pop up a polite message explaining that their service is not currently available.
However, it is possible to fool Spotify into thinking you are in a country where they hold the rights to their music. And that can be done using a VPN.
What is a VPN
A VPN is an online security and privacy tool which encrypts users internet traffic and redirects it down a secure tunnel and via an external server before it reaches its intended destination.
By encrypting your data, a VPN can ensure that everything you do online is secure and not easy for hackers and government surveillance officers to snoop at.
But the crucial bit of the process for those looking to access Spotify is the rerouting of traffic via an external server. Because when your data passes through another server, it is no longer tagged with the IP Address of your Internet connection, but rather the IP Address of the server.
This means that if the server is located in a country where Spotify holds the rights to its music, they will think you are located there and therefore allow you to access their service.
Most VPNs will offer a wide range of servers, especially in the USA and Europe, which means they should all offer plenty of scope for accessing Spotify no matter where in the world you are. However, there are other criteria which a VPN needs to meet in order to be a good option or access Spotify and that is what this article is all about.