Pandora is the world’s most famous internet radio service. Whereas most streaming radio services recommend music based on what you have in common with other users who like the same music, Pandora leverages the Music Genome Project to suggest music based on hundreds of attributes. With nearly one million songs in its library, it’s a great way to discover new music.
Ever since 2007, however, Pandora has been limited to users in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Under pressure from copyright holders, Pandora started blocking users in other countries based on their IP address. Even paying users are not allowed to listen from outside those three countries. Anyone who attempts to do so is greeted with the following message:
Fortunately, there’s a simple workaround. All you need is a proxy service, such as a VPN or SOCKS5 proxy. These tools mask your IP address and can make it appear as though you are accessing Pandora from the US, Australia, or New Zealand.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is our preferred method. A VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic, then routes it through an intermediary server in a locatino of the user’s choosing. Besides spoofing your location, VPNs offer a slew of other benefits such as better security, more privacy, and access to geo-locked content and services in multiple countries. VPNs usually come with bespoke apps that don’t require any special configuration on your device. Connecting is as simple as picking a location and flipping a switch.
We’ve narrowed down our list of the best VPNs for Pandora based on the following criteria:
- Servers in at least one of three countries: USA, Australia, and New Zealand
- Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
- Speed and reliability
ExpressVPN offers well-designed and simple apps combined with top-tier security and a server network spanning 78 countries. That includes multiple cities in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. The servers are always reliable and fast, so you should have no problems with smooth playback. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Linux (command line). 24/7 live chat support is available 365 days per year if you need any assistance.
NordVPN operates servers in the US, Australia, and New Zealand. It maintains the highest privacy standards and features a “Smart Play” tool that lets you access streaming content from a variety of sources including Pandora. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Certain servers are optimized for better security and faster speeds. You can connect up to six simultaneous devices on a single account, making it a great value.
IPVanish owns and operates its own huge network of servers around the globe. That includes the US, Australia, and New Zealand. With easy-to-use apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS, IPV will have you listening to Pandora within minutes of signing up, no matter wher eyou are in the world. You’ll also enjoy the peace of mind of military-grade encryption and a strict no-logs policy.
VyprVPN prides itself on its wholly-owned network of data centers and server equipment around the world. The US, Australia, and New Zealand are all listed in its roster of server locations. Speeds are excellent and reliable. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. With unlimited data, bandwidth, and server switches, you never have to worry about hitting a cap.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
Normally we don’t recommend free VPNs, but TunnelBear is an exception. The free version (available here) is limited to 500MB per month, which should be enough to listen to roughly 100 songs on Pandora, give or take. It’s a good option if you’re a free user of Pandora and don’t want to pay extra just for a VPN or proxy service, or if you’re just briefly traveling abroad and want something temporary. Compared to most other free VPNs, TunnelBear scores relatively well in our VPN privacy ratings. If you want to use your VPN for torrenting or streaming Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer or other content abroad choose one of the other options on this list.
The paid version starts at $4.17 per month and removes the 500MB cap.
VPN vs SOCKS proxy
A SOCKS4 or SOCKS5 proxy works similar to a VPN in that your internet traffic is routed through a remote server, but SOCKS5 proxies are not encrypted by default. That makes them faster, but significantly less private. Anyone who intercepts your internet traffic will be able to decipher it, unlike the encrypted packets sent through a VPN.
If all you want is to listen to Pandora outside of the US, Australia, and New Zealand, a SOCKS proxy is an acceptable option. Note that it might require configuring the settings on your device to route Pandora traffic through the proxy.
Does Pandora block VPNs?
We’ve seen reports that Pandora, like other region-locked streaming services, blocks VPN connections. In our testing, however, none of the VPNs we recommended above prevented us from listening on Android or desktop browser.
Note that Pandora limits free users to a certain number of skips within a set period of time. This limit varies depending on whether you have a paid subscription and what device you’re listening on.
Pandora no longer limits users to 40 hours of listening per month. This restriction has been removed.
Users on free accounts must listen to advertisements that cannot be skipped.