Apple Music is a smooth, convenient, user-friendly experience when everything’s working properly.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work properly; for instance, you might run into an annoying situation where Apple Music suddenly decides that your favorite song isn’t available in your region.
Today, we’re going to take a look at Apple Music’s region-locking system, how it works, how it often fails to work, and what you might be able to do about it!
Here’s What We Know About Region-Locking on Apple Music:
Due to legal complexities, certain songs or albums may not be available in every country or region of the world on Apple Music. Apple has not been forthcoming about exactly how many songs are subject to region-locking or in which countries, so we cannot say for certain an exact figure.
How Much of Apple Music’s Catalog Is Region-Specific?
That’s actually a surprisingly difficult question to answer, because Apple hasn’t been very transparent on the matter.
What is clear is that certain songs, due to legal complexities we don’t entirely understand, cannot be made available in all countries.
When it happens that a given song, album, or artist cannot be made available in a given country due to local laws, an error will be displayed when trying to access the content from that country.
We can also say with some confidence that it doesn’t seem to be a majority of content on Apple Music.
That is to say that, based on user reports, running into issues with region-locking appears to be an occasional thing, rather than a constant issue with a large amount of content.
However, that’s about as specific as we can be, because Apple is very opaque about exactly what is and isn’t allowed in which countries, or what percentage of its music library this affects.
Why Are Some Songs Region-Locked on Apple Music?
Well, one thing we can be fairly certain of is that it’s not because Apple itself decided it didn’t want to share certain music with certain parts of the world.
It would, after all, be in Apple’s best interest to allow as much content to be accessed in as much of the world as possible.This is because doing so would keep their user base happy, and therefore keep the subscription fees coming in.
The reason they cannot always do this is that, as with any large-scale service that spans multiple countries, Apple Music is subject to local law in every country it serves.
So, region-locking only occurs when a given country’s laws prevent a given song, album, or artist from being legally accessed in that country.
In that case, Apple must comply with the local laws, or face legal and financial consequences.
Naturally, most companies prefer to avoid that kind of hassle and potential losses.
The exact reason for the region lock, therefore, varies depending on a given country’s laws. It could be because the song contains explicit content, and some countries are stricter about censorship of explicit content than others.
It could be that the record label an artist is signed to simply does not have the rights to distribute in that country.
Frankly, it could be due to any number of reasons, but the bottom line is that it’s almost always a case of local laws preventing Apple from distributing content they otherwise would.
Can you Change Your Region on Apple Music?
There are ways to change your region on Apple Music, but there are some caveats.
Sadly, Apple requires you to make something of a clean break from your existing content and services before you can change region. And, you may need a VPN (more on this later).
So it’s not as simple as swapping around your region without changing anything else.
Specifically, you must spend all your store credit, cancel your subscriptions and wait for them to expire, and acquire a valid payment method for your new country/region.
This is because, unfortunately, none of these things appear to carry over to a new region when you change yours.
This means that if you simply changed your region without doing any of the above first, you would lose your store credit and be unable to access the remaining time on your subscriptions.
You’d also be unable to purchase any new content, without a valid payment method for your new region.
If you follow all of the above guidelines, however, you could switch your region, and then purchase new subscriptions and so on under your newly selected region.
Do You Lose Your Music if You Change Region?
As far as we can tell, any music content you have purchased and downloaded, you should be able to keep when you change to a new region.
Just to be sure, we recommend being thorough with your backups, in case there’s a problem retrieving purchased content after changing regions.
However, this only applies to content you have purchased, such as songs you’ve bought from the iTunes store.
It does not apply to the music you’ve downloaded from Apple Music for offline listening.
In that case, you’ll have to get a new Apple Music subscription in your new region, and then re-download any content you want to have available for offline listening.
This is because content downloaded under an Apple Music subscription is not yours to keep; you are paying for temporary access, which includes songs you’ve downloaded for offline listening.
This is distinct from any purchases you’ve made of individual songs, albums, or other content that you purchased, rather than simply paid-for temporary access.
So, in short, when you switch regions, you should be able to keep anything you’ve purchased, but not anything associated with a subscription service.
Can You Use VPNs with Apple Music?
In theory, you should be able to, but we’re not certain it would work as intended.
This is because of how strict Apple appears to be in terms of what’s required to actually change your account’s region.
Since Apple requires you to make a somewhat clean break from services associated with your old region before re-acquiring them under your new region, it might be difficult to fool the system.
However, we have not tested this, and cannot be certain; it’s possible a VPN might allow you to access region-locked content, but expect to run into some hiccups if you try it.
One thing we do know is that VPNs can cause errors with content you can normally play just fine without one.
That is to say, if you have music that’s not locked in your actual region, but you’re using a VPN emulating a region where that music is region-locked, you might not be able to access it.
In this case, simply turning off your VPN should resolve the issue.
Whether or not a VPN can be used to bypass region-locking for songs that are locked in your actual region remains uncertain, but it couldn’t hurt to try!
Are there Other Ways to Access Region-Locked Content?
Sadly, we are not aware of any other means to bypass region-locking on Apple Music.
The last link under “sources” below includes a guide for resolving region-lock-related errors that could be worth a look if you’re struggling with this issue.
However, it is not a guide for bypassing actual region locks, but rather for resolving errors wherein music that should not be locked in your region is being blocked by mistake.
So if you believe you’re getting a region-lock message by mistake, it could help you resolve that problem, but sadly it won’t let you access content that is actually supposed to be blocked.