Experimenting with Pandora since the non-US shutdown

As an avid Pandora.com listener I was quite miffed by the news that pandora would be shutting out non-us users of their service. I was also a bit pissed earlier when I found out that my squeezebox only included 90 days of free pandora and I couln’t get a non-free account because I was living on the wrong side of the big pond (so much for that major selling-point).

But being the computer geek that I am, I wasn’t going to let simple IP-geolocation stop me from listerning to my favorite tunes… First I played around a bit with Pandora to see what filtering happened, and when I would be blocked. Then I tried some publicly available proxy-servers, and some of them would allow access. Most of these proxy servers however are too unreliable, and way to slow for audio-streaming.

The next attempt meant re-enabling Tor, something I’ve used before but didn’t really have a serious need for before. It’s an onion-routing system meant to anonymize/obscure your traffic. This would still block my access to pandora most of the time, as it seems most exit-nodes are germany- and france-based.

I decided to work through the tor nodeslist my server had collected, filtering on nodes in the US by looking at IP-adresses, hostnames and whois info. I came up with a list of .us nodes and fed this list to my tor server.

This allowed me again to load up pandora.com and get music going… but very slowly, too slow for listening. While googling some more for options and alternatives I disabled tor again (proxyswitch plugin for firefox), and clicked a new station in Pandora. Surely enough it started playing, without hickups and delays… It seems audio-data isn’t filtered by the geo-ip filter, only the flash applet and metadata requests.

Hmm… seems I was wrong, as I can’t reproduce it… but it seems I’ve just been getting some better tor exit-nodes… the quest continues…

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6 thoughts on “Experimenting with Pandora since the non-US shutdown”

  1. I’ve been playing with Pandora and Tor since the first day the limitations were in place; some exitnodes suck indeed, the trick is to keep trying 😉

    I’m using Vidalia on OSX to run Tor+privoxy, so far I have not found the proxylist on my system, I’m even fearing vidalia or tor keeps it in memory.

    As for ‘only metadata is filtered’, I tried pretty hard to return to non-Tor after logging in via Tor and met with nothing but consistent failure, so it seems that they do indeed check geoip all the bloody time.

  2. i think i’m somewhat lucky,

    i installed tor+ privoxy + Vidalia

    as soon as i don’t get any music ( once every few hours ), i just randomly ask for a new identity, and the music starts playing again. just with random exit nodes,
    only if i get the non us exit nodes, i sometimes have to refresh 3 to 4 times the identity

    kind regards peter ( netherlands )

  3. Hi, dunno if you will see this since you wrote that so long ago, but anyway. (maybe you have some kind of alert system for new replies…)

    I’ve been using Tor with Pandora for many months now and it works great (many of the US exitnodes listed on Vidalia are definitely fast enough). I could get a Squeezebox if there is some way to get it working with Pandora. Any idea if they check where the credit card is located? If getting a subscription outside US could be done could there be a way to use Tor somehow to connect to the squeezebox Pandora servers with the player?

    Thanks if you end uo replying to this.

    btw, I don’t understand why Pandora can’t just make a subscription based service for Europe. If users pay a bit for the music they hear, there shouldn’t be that big of a problem to get the service trough… I think it takes this long to get Pandora here because they’d want it to be ad powered service like the US one is.

  4. For the pandora support on squeezebox you need an account, and I guess that you can’t get an account without a .US creditcard.

    I haven’t tried, so far i’ve only used pandora in my webbrowser since the expiration of my pandora/squeezebox trial (and the closure of pandora for non .us users).

  5. How to get Pandora outside the US with direct audio connection:

    Google ‘openpandora tor’ for a HowTo and follow steps one and two of that. (I apparently can’t post the URL as WordPress / Akismet freaks out.)

    Minus the horribly out of date US exit nodes. To get a new list of them, go to https://torstat.xenobite.eu/ , search on CC: US (at the top), then filter to Fast, Exit, Stable, and Valid. Take a few of those names and plug them in where the old list of nodes was given on the OpenPandora guide.

    Next, ignore lines 3 and 4 unless you’re actually using IE. To get it working with Firefox, install the FoxyProxy addon from the addons.mozilla.org site, accept the defaults in the installation dialogs, remove the default Gmail filter, and install a whitelist filter for http://www.pandora.com/* in FoxyProxy.

    Then, just navigate to Pandora and it’ll take a little bit to load up, but only the web content will be filtered through Tor while the audio content is streamed directly to you (Pandora apparently doesn’t do geolocation filtering on their audio content, possibly because they still like us and just turn a blind eye to it because most users are still blocked :^).

    Bingo, Pandora outside the US. :^)

  6. You can easily access pandora anywhere in the world using AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield VPN.
    It gives you a US IP address and works with Windows XP/Vista/7/Mac.

    Check it out here: http://www.hotspotshield.com

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