Music streaming startup Spotify is one of the most popular apps in the world, offering a repository of content that’s almost unrivaled in its scale. Despite a global brand name and an extremely tight-knit community, Spotify isn’t accessible in each and every country. To enjoy the full experience, you’ll need a VPN.
You might be greeted with the following error message if you try to access Spotify from an unsupported location:
“Sign up to be the first in line when Spotify launches in [Your Country]
Spotify is currently not available in [Your Country] Enter your email address to be first in line when we launch!”
You’ll have to change your location to glean the full experience, and like we mentioned earlier, the best way to do this is via a VPN.
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN masks your true location by encrypting all the traffic flowing to and from your device and tunneling it via an intermediary server. This makes it very hard for nosy ISPs or government agencies to figure out what you’re doing on the web.
Here’s what you need to do to access Spotify:
- Pick a VPN
- Select a plan
- Download the app
- Open the VPN app, login, and select a server in a country where Spotify works (the full list is given at the bottom of this article)
- Once the connection is established, open Spotify and use it like you normally would
What are the best VPNs for Spotify?
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the best VPNs that work with Spotify flawlessly. They’re ranked on the following factors:
- Speed and stability of service
- Large number of server locations across the world
- Strong encryption parameters so your location remains hidden
- Apps for Android and iOS
- Provision for simultaneous connections
- Ease of use
ExpressVPN seamlessly combines military-grade encryption protocols with a fast, efficient product. The app is easy to set up and comes with a minimalist, functional design that works without any glitches.
There’s a wide selection of servers to choose from. Over 1,500 servers are spread across 94 countries. When you login, the app will also suggest a ‘smart location’ a server which ExpressVPN feels is best suited for you based on where you’re connecting from.
Encryption standards are among the best in the business. The company leverages OpenVPN with 256-bit AES as default. 4,096-bit DHE-RSA keys are identified by a SHA-512 hashing algorithm. These are stringent and designed to keep your data secure, away from any prying eyes.
Privacy enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the provider retains bare minimum data. Some of the details it records is the servers people connect to and the dates they log on. Individual IP addresses are not recorded. For additional security, the provider also includes a ‘network lock’ that temporarily blocks internet access if the connection unexpectedly drops.
A single subscription grants access to three devices at the same time. Apps for both Android and iOS are available as well as desktop clients for Windows and MacOS.
Here’s our review of ExpressVPN.
TRY IT RISK-FREE: You can get 3 months free here with the ExpressVPN annual plan. The deal includes its 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee so you’ll receive a full refund if unsatisfied with the service. The offer represents 49% savings over the monthly plan.
IPVanish satisfies all the requirements when it comes to a fast VPN that doesn’t cost a ton of cash and ships with rigid encryption standards. It’ll do its job efficiently with little to no lag during your Spotify music playback.
IPVanish doesn’t store any data logs at all. The provider can be referred to as a completely logless VPN. It’s almost impossible for your activity to be traced back to you because even network administrators at the company have no information about what you’re doing on the web.
Like ExpressVPN, an internet kill switch is included, which halts all internet traffic in the event that the VPN connection drops.
As for encryption standards, IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. The latter feature means that even if your account is compromised, all past web sessions will remain encrypted and out of reach from nosy hackers.
There’s an option to choose between 850 servers spread across 60 countries.
IPVanish allows five devices to connect at one time, which is very generous and makes it highly affordable if you were to split the cost among friends.
Apps for both Android and iOS as well as desktop software for Windows and MacOS are available.
Many users find it an excellent option for Kodi because it allows them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
NordVPN is a recommended option for power users. The provider offers a bunch of customizable options and servers designed to cater to specific aspects of your browsing experience. Other than these snazzy features, NordVPN delivers speed, stability, and ease of use in an affordable package.
Like IPVanish, NordVPN is another example of a logless VPN service—zero retention of user data. The policy has thwarted several attempts by government agencies to identify Nord users. There simply wasn’t any data on Nord’s servers that could assist the investigation.
We don’t think authorities will be scrambling to uncover your personal details as long as you’re just using a VPN to access Spotify, but it’s still prudent to remain protected.
NordVPN encrypts traffic via 256-bit AES and 2,048-bit DH keys. DNS leak protection is enabled. A single subscription grants access to six simultaneously connected devices, the most in this list.
The provider doesn’t skimp on the server network either. Users have a plentiful 2154 of them to choose from spread across 59 countries, as of the time of writing. As we mentioned before, it’s possible to choose one based on your preference, such as torrenting, anti-DDoS, video streaming, or ultra-secure privacy.
Apps for both Android and iOS are available as well as a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Cyberghost Pro is a budget option suitable for users who want a no-frills service. There aren’t a ton of customizable options like NordVPN, but the provider delivers on the core standards of speed and encryption protocols.
Cyberghost Pro’s choice of encryption standards are top-tier. It uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA256 authentication. An internet kill switch is included.
CyberGhost operates 1,209 servers at the time of writing, spread across 51 countries. Unblocking Spotify should be pretty straightforward.
The premium version grants simultaneous access to five devices on a single plan. The company supports both Android and iOS and there’s native software for Windows and MacOS, too.
Read our full review of Cyberghost Pro.
VyprVPN has built a loyal community across the globe due to its robust encryption protocols and fast speeds. There’s also the added benefit of 24/7 online customer support, a free 3-day trial, and a large server network.
Some users might not be happy with the logging policy. VyprVPN stores “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time and total number of bytes used.”
But we haven’t come across any infractions. The company adds that content of communications, e.g. the sites the users visit, won’t be recorded.
All traffic is encrypted via the OpenVPN protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication. An internet kill switch is included.
Over 700 servers are spread across the world and a subscription to a VyprVPN Pro account allows up to three devices to connect at the same time.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
Zenmate first came to the fore as a result of its free VPN extension for Chrome. It also offers a paid VPN service which has a wider server network and better encryption protocols.
The service, however, is a tad mixed. It’ll stream video just fine as well as meet all your browsing requirements. But in our extensive review, we did notice that it’s susceptible to DNS leaks. The provider offers an initial 14-day free trial so you can test it out and see if it meets your requirements before proceeding.
If you subscribe to a premium package, you’ll notice that there are over 1,000 servers available.
Encryption standards are decent. Zenmate uses 128-bit AES encryption in conjunction with 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA 256 for authentication. An internet kill switch is included.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of Zenmate.
Should I use a free VPN to unblock Spotify?
Spotify’s the largest freemium music streaming platform in the world, with 150 million active users. That puts it well ahead of competitors like Apple Music. It’s tempting to opt for a free VPN, especially if you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber because there’s no additional upfront payment.
But free VPNs are vastly inferior to paid options. For smooth, uninterrupted audio playback you’ll need a VPN that doesn’t impose things like bandwidth throttling or data caps. These are common with free options.
Remember that free VPNs aren’t exactly free. They monetize by making you the product: inundating you with advertisements and, in some cases, inserting tracking cookies in your browser to mine browsing data and sell it to third-party sites.
Some VPNs to avoid
One of the major reasons for using a VPN is the assurance that your private data will be protected and safeguarded throughout. After all, that’s why VPN providers exist in the first place. The last thing you want is to run into trouble.
Unfortunately, not all VPN companies impose these rigorous standards. The ones we’ve recommended in our list pass the test, but here’s a few that might not:
Israel-based Hola, which built a peer-to-peer VPN extension for Chrome, once had a gigantic user base of 50 million. But it chose to undo the good work by turning users into individual foot soldiers in a massive botnet army. What this meant was that a part of your bandwidth was used for Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, promoting copyrighted content, and pornography.
2. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is a well-known name in the free VPN business because it’s been around for a long time and provided the first step into the VPN world for many. However, it seems like it’s also fallen into the trap of engaging in unethical activity in order to make a quick buck.
In July of this year, a privacy advocacy group said the company forcefully inserted tracking cookies in user data and sold it to third-party advertisers. The group added that Hotspot Shield redirected ecommerce traffic to partner domains. This meant that each time a user typed in a request to a site like macys.com, he/she was redirected instead to another, similar domain where Hotspot Shield could earn profits if a sale went through.
It’s important to note that these are still allegations and a firm ruling hasn’t been made. The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating the issue. But we believe that you should avoid Hotspot Shield until it is acquitted of all charges.
Media reports a few weeks ago revealed well-known VPN provider PureVPN collaborated with the FBI to identify Massachusetts resident Ryan Lin, believed to be stalking an unnamed 24-year-old woman.
Ryan moved in with the unnamed woman and two other roommates after stumbling across an advertisement on Craigslist. He managed to access her Apple iCloud and Google Drive account from where he allegedly downloaded personal data and used it for a number of disgusting acts such as revealing lurid details to coworkers and spoofing her identity to make death threats. He used a VPN to cover his tracks, thinking that authorities won’t be able to identify him.
Even though PureVPN has a stated policy of not tracking any user data, the company was still able to identify Ryan and hand over incriminating information to the FBI. For its part, the company insists that it didn’t record the content of Ryan’s communications and only managed to trace the source IP, but it certainly could have been more transparent about its logging policy.
We don’t condone using a VPN to break laws or engage in unethical behavior. But we do believe that VPN providers need to be open and transparent with users. Companies can’t claim one thing and do another because that’s not being honest and truthful to users.
Where is Spotify available?
Currently, Spotify is available in the following countries:
|Asia Pacific||Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand.|
|Europe||Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom.|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay.|
|The United States and Canada||Canada, United States.|
This might seem like a large list, but there are several countries with high levels of GDP/capita where it’s still not present such as India, China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia, and others.
One of the reasons why Spotify isn’t available across the globe is because of music licensing rights. The company bids for rights from the original copyright holders such as record labels and content producers. It also has rivals trying to do the same which means there will invariably be some countries where Spotify won’t be able to operate.
Whenever you log in to Spotify, the app will try to determine your location via the IP address you use. If it’s from a country that’s not supported, then it’ll use a technique called geo-blocking to restrict access. The only way to overcome this problem is to change your IP address via a VPN.
Spotify also incorporates a separate library depending on what part of the world you log in from. This is similar to how Netflix operates – users in Latin America will be able to access a different library of content as compared to their North American counterparts.
When you log in to the Spotify app or website, your authentication details are saved for 14 days. It doesn’t matter if you travel abroad and access it from a separate country – you’ll still be able to access streaming music for that period. Afterwards, you’ll have to login again – at this point Spotify will check whether you’re present in the same country as listed in your profile. If you’re not, a VPN can do the trick.
If you don’t try to mask your location, Spotify might ping you with the following error message:
“Your country does not match the one set in your profile.”
How do I change my country in a Spotify account?
Here are the steps if you have recently moved to another country and have a Spotify Premium account. It’s likely that your bank account/credit card details will change and you would like to update the payment method.
- Log into your account page on the Spotify website
- Select “Subscription” in the left panel
- Click “Update Details”
- Click “…” for more options
- Click “Change Country” and select the country you want to move your account to
- Choose a payment method that is based in the new country (i.e. the billing address is in the country)
- Confirm the change by clicking “Change Payment Details”
You can still continue to use your existing Spotify Premium account anywhere in the world if your previous payment details are still valid. Just don’t update your account details to your new address.
Spotify history and controversies
Spotify was first built in Stockholm, Sweden by engineers Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon in 2005. The name came about after Daniel slept over at Martin’s house on a bare mattress with just his laptop in tow. For the first year or so the two of them slugged it out in an apartment, hacking away furiously at the product. Public beta didn’t come until spring 2007.
The company did start hitting its stride early though. It was able to raise a $21.6 million series A round just a little over a year after the public beta launch. It went on to raise two more rounds, in 2009 and 2010 – snaring in rockstar investors such as Sean Parker to help the company grow.
A gargantuan $100 million series D round came in 2011, the same year that Spotify finally launched in the US. Mark Zuckerberg described himself as a fan of the company, famously proclaiming that “Spotify’s so good”.
In 2015, Spotify declared that it had paid out over $3b to artists to date and had 75 million active users. It’s doubled the active user figure in just two years.
But despite all these lofty standards, the company hasn’t exactly shied away from controversy. Artists on the platform earn less than one US cent per stream. Taylor Swift famously pulled all of her music in 2014 after complaining that streaming services like Spotify don’t reward artists enough and that music is a form of art that should be considered valuable.
In 2017 Spotify was also accused of creating fake artists. This is not to suggest that the music was composed by an AI platform, but more likely by artists paid and contracted by Spotify itself.
The move attracted a fair bit of controversy but isn’t far removed from a similar strategy at entertainment behemoth Netflix whose original entertainment division is now starting to become a massive force in its own right.
Spotify denied the assertions vigorously, although it could significantly reduce the amount of money it pays music right holders – which totaled $2.48 billion in 2016.