7 Reasons Why Playback is Restricted on Spotify

Have you ever tried listening to a song or album on Spotify only to see a message that playback is restricted? This frustrating error seems to be happening more and more these days.

Playback restrictions on Spotify usually occur due to licensing issues. The streaming service doesn’t actually own all the music on its platform. Instead, it licenses songs from record labels, publishers, and rights holders. If the license expires or if there’s a dispute, Spotify has to restrict playback.

Fortunately, there are usually workarounds so you can keep listening to your favorite tracks. Here are the top 7 reasons why you may be seeing playback restricted messages in Spotify in 2023 and what you can do about it.

1. Geographic Restrictions

One of the most common reasons for playback restrictions on Spotify is geographic licensing limitations.

Music licensing deals are complex and vary widely from country to country. A song or album may be fully licensed for streaming in the United States but restricted in other markets.

So if you try accessing Spotify while traveling abroad, you’ll likely run into playback errors for some songs in your playlists or libraries. The same thing can happen if you try to access Spotify from a VPN or proxy server located in another country.

The best way around geographic restrictions is to switch back to your home country connection or library. You can do this easily in Spotify by selecting your account on desktop or the settings menu on mobile and changing back to your home country.

2. Explicit Content Filter

Spotify offers a toggle to filter out songs marked as explicit. This feature aims to provide a more family-friendly listening experience.

If you have explicit content filtering enabled, playback will be blocked for any track labeled explicit even if you’re the account owner. You’ll see a message that the content is unavailable due to explicit filtering settings.

To fix this, simply disable the explicit content filter in your account settings. Just be aware that this will then allow playback of all explicit songs in your account.

3. Device Limitations

Due to licensing rules, Spotify places restrictions on certain devices. For example, some smart speakers and other connected devices only allow shuffle mode rather than full on-demand playback.

Trying to play a specific song or album on an unsupported device can trigger a playback restriction notice.

If you want full playback capabilities, your best bet is streaming through a phone, tablet, computer, or Spotify Connect speakers. Or you may need to upgrade to a premium plan on some smart devices.

4. Expired Licenses

One of the most frustrating playback errors occurs when Spotify’s license to stream a particular song or album expires. This means the record label or rights holder has decided not to renew the licensing agreement.

When this happens, Spotify has no choice but to restrict playback until they negotiate a new deal. Licenses can expire for a handful of tracks or entire catalogs at times.

There’s not much listeners can do in this situation aside from waiting it out or accessing the content through another streaming service if available. Playback may return in a few weeks or months if a licensing renewal occurs.

5. Copyright Issues

Copyright claims are another common trigger for playback restrictions on Spotify. Artists and labels regularly screen streams to identify unauthorized uploads or other versions that violate copyrights.

When a copyright infringement is identified, Spotify blocks playback per their compliance procedures. You may see messages like “Content unavailable” or specifying the rights holder issuing the claim.

Addressing false copyright claims can be tricky for listeners. The best recourse is patience until the dispute is resolved or accessing the content legally through another platform. Unauthorized uploads are unfortunately prone to takedowns.

6. Exclusive Releases

Major artists sometimes release albums or songs exclusively through a single streaming platform like Spotify, Apple Music, or Tidal. This exclusive access is time-limited, usually lasting a few weeks or months.

Attempting to play an exclusive release on a competing platform will trigger a playback error during the exclusivity window. The only option is either waiting for the wide release or switching to the streaming service with exclusive rights.

Exclusives are less common today than a few years ago, but still popup occasionally for high-profile releases. Beyonce and Taylor Swift albums are good examples of releases that have had temporary exclusives.

7. Account Sharing

Spotify explicitly prohibits sharing accounts between family members or friends. This rule aims to limit multi-household access tied to a single subscription.

If Spotify detects suspicious login patterns like simultaneous streams or logins from different geographic regions, it may trigger a playback error citing “multiple household usage.”

The simple fix is for each person to sign up for their own Spotify account and stop sharing login credentials. Spotify premium plans support up to 6 user profiles within a legit household.

Workarounds for Playback Restrictions

While frustrating, playback restrictions don’t necessarily mean you lose access to the music permanently. Here are a few tips to try getting around common Spotify playback errors:

  • Check if the content plays on a different device – restrictions vary across platforms
  • Log out and back in or close and re-open the app – may reset glitches
  • Disable explicit filter if enabled and blocking songs
  • Try streaming via web player if blocked on mobile or vice versa
  • Switch VPN locations to change geographic settings
  • Wait a few days or weeks in case it’s a temporary license issue
  • Search YouTube or other platforms to find alternative official sources

In most cases, playback restrictions are temporary setbacks and full access will be restored in time. But if you keep running into blocks, expanding your streaming options across services is a good hedge.

FAQ About Playback Restrictions on Spotify

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about playback restrictions on Spotify:

Why does Spotify block some songs and not others?

It depends on licensing restrictions. Some labels provide universal licensing while others limit geographic regions or place other stipulations that lead to playback blocks.

Can I get around country restrictions with a VPN?

In some cases yes, but Spotify actively works to detect and block VPN usage in violation of licensing agreements.

What does the “copyright claim” error mean?

It indicates a rights holder identified an unauthorized upload and requested it be blocked. These restrictions remain until any disputes are resolved.

How do I fix problems caused by sharing an account?

The simplest fix is for each user to create their own Spotify login and stop sharing credentials across households.

What should I do if an album disappears due to an expired license?

Your options are to wait and see if it returns after the label renews licensing or switch to an alternative streaming service where the album is still available.

Can I get a refund if playback restrictions impact my Spotify subscription?

Probably not, as Spotify’s terms indicate catalog changes are always possible. But you can contact customer support to see if any accommodations are possible.

The Bottom Line

Playback restrictions can be annoying but are usually caused by factors out of Spotify’s direct control. The streaming service does what it can to minimize disruptions but has to comply with complex licensing standards across the music industry.

While there’s no silver bullet fix, the context above hopefully helps explain the common factors behind playback restrictions. And the workarounds provide options to try getting your Spotify playlist pumping again when troubles hit. With any luck, your favorite tunes will once again be available after a brief delay.

Let me know in the comments if you’re dealing with any Spotify playback errors and I’ll try to help brainstorm solutions!

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