Pandora.com is one of the magnificent online services that never fails to dispel any loneliness or homesickness an expat in Japan might feel from time to time (along with Vonage, Slingbox, and of course BitTorrent). It’s an interactive streaming netradio on which you create custom channels based on your musical tastes; the more you listen and provide feedback, the more the channels learn and improve. It’s been responsible for my discovering dozens of fantastic new artists and albums in several genres that I thought I’d completely exhausted.
That is, until I visited one day and was greeted by this heartbreaking message:
We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for most listeners located outside of the U.S. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.
Noooooo! There must be a way around it. There always is. That’s the beauty of computers – you’ve only got to be a little smarter than the next guy and the world is your oyster.
And after quite a few unsuccessful attempts, a solution did indeed reveal itself. Using a web anonymizer called Tor and some roundabout proxy configuration, Pandora’s geolocation can be tricked into thinking I’m still in the US. The trick lies in the fact that it only seems to check your IP when you first connect to the service – the stream itself is never checked, so you can enjoy the full bandwidth of a direct connection once you’ve convinced their servers that you’re not listening from overseas.
I return once again to musical bliss.