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Spotify is cracking down on users pirating Premium-like service

Spotify is cracking down on users pirating Premium-like service


As the company prepares to go public

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Spotify is cracking down on users who run modded versions of the software that remove some of the restrictions of free accounts, as reported by Torrent Freak. The company has been sending out emails over the past few days to those with the hacked accounts, saying it has “detected abnormal activity on the app” and disabled the account in question. Spotify hasn’t deleted these accounts outright, and users can reactivate them once they uninstall the illicit software and download the official Spotify app.

Around 88 million accounts are registered for the free version of Spotify, which injects advertising and imposes limitations like shuffle-only play. However, many sites offer downloads of doctored Spotify installation files that make free accounts act — to a degree — like Premium accounts. All one has to do is register for a free account, then download the modified version and enter their credentials. This hack doesn’t change accounts from free to Premium (for example, it doesn’t provide access to higher-quality streaming) but enables some Premium features like unlimited skips.

It’s unclear how many of these modded accounts exist or how much of a problem it is for the company, which is gearing up to go public. Spotify counts 159 million users around the world, and 71 million of those accounts are paid premium subscribers, but it has still struggled to turn a profit given the paper-thin margins of streaming.

Spotify email about hacked premium accounts
Image: Torrent Freak