Music is food for the soul and seems to be something the belongs to us all. The music industry on the other hand seems like a mysterious world of personal connections, where only those who know the dark art can make it. The mix of outstanding talent and hedonistic lifestyle results in the tunes that we love, but also too often in tragedy. Take a deep dive into the music industry, some of its most interesting stars and most perplexing mysteries, with these 20 documentaries currently available on Netflix.
Biggie and Tupac (2002)
IMDB Score 6.8/10
Still one of the biggest mysteries of the music industry, this documentary by Nick Broomfield looks at the unsolved murders of rap stars Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace and Tupac “2Pac” Shakur. He suggests that the murders were planned by none other than the head of Death Row Records, Suge Knight, who was in the car with Tupac when he was shot. While this documentary does not offer any concrete answers, it is an interesting look at the lives of the rappers and the evidence.
The Black Godfather (2019)
IMDB Score 7.6/10
This documentary by Reginald Hudlin looks at the story of music executive Clarence Avant, told by the people he worked with over the years. It reveals a story that is largely unknown by the public, but Avant was one of the most important figures in the music industry in his day. He not only helped African American artists, but also mentored politicians and executives.
Chasing Trane (2016)
IMDB Score 7.3/10
This American documentary from John Scheinfeld dives deep into the life ad career of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. This film is certainly a homage to the music great, but is a great way to introduce the still relevant music of the legend to a new audience. Denzel Washington also features as the voice of Coltrane – can’t beat that!
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (2019)
From homage to no holes barred disaster, this documentary looks at Billy McFarland and his failed Fyre Festival of 2017. Designed to be a party in paradise, nothing went according to plan. The documentary shares all the gruesome details of the disaster, resulting in a damning commentary on the dangers of wealth.
Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017)
IMDB Score 7.1/10
Many people are fascinated by the character of Lady Gaga, and this documentary offers a small glimpse as it follows the singer as she releases her fifth studio album and prepares for her halftime performance at the Super Bowl. It shares her challenges with celebrity life, and also her battle against the pain caused by the onset of fibromyalgia.
George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)
IMDB Score 8.2/10
In this film George Harrison of The Beatles fame gets the Martin Scorsese treatment. It reveals the early life of the man, his time in The Beatles, plus his travels in India where he was greatly influenced by the Krishna Consciousness movement. There is lots of previously unseen footage, which adds much to the story of one of the less well known of the quartet.
How the Beatles Changed the World (2017)
IMDB Score 6.8/10
There is no question that The Beatles are one of the most popular and influential bands of all time, but exactly what was their impact on the music scene? This documentary both looks at the conditions that allowed The Beatles to become the phenomenon that they were, and then traces their influence into the modern day industry.
Numero Zero: The Roots of Italian Rap (2015)
IMDB Score 7.8/10
Unknown to many Americans, rap took off in Italy in the 1980s and 1990s, accompanied by an underworld culture that had an impact not only on the music industry, but on Italian culture itself. This documentary looks at the rise of rap in the European boot, and also its sharp decline in popularity after the year 2000.
One in a Lifetimes Sessions with TLC (2018)
TLC were one of the hottest girl bands on the 1990s, and paved the way for the likes of Destiny’s Child. They had nine top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and four albums go multi-platinum. However, their meteoric rise was stopped by internal feuding, and then the death of member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. This documentary sits down with the surviving members, Tionne “T-Box” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas to talk about the history of the group.
IMDB Score 7.7/10
This documentary looks at the life of American record producer Quincy Jones, which was co-directed by his daughter Rashida Jones with Alan Hicks. Through the lens of the life work of the great man, the documentary offers a fascinating glimpse into the entertainment industry in the 1990s.
IMDB Score 6.2/10
This film follows legendary rapper Snoop Dogg as he undertakes a pilgrimage to Jamaica and reinvents himself as a reggae artist. It provides an interesting look at the man, and also the oft misunderstood Rastafari faith.
ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads (2019)
IMDB Score 7.1/10
One of a series of films that looks at some of the music industry’s biggest mysteries, this film focuses on blues legend Robert Johnson. It was said that he made with a deal with the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi, which was responsible for his unprecedented talent. But what was the price he had to pay in the bargain?
ReMastered; Who Killed Jam Master Jay? (2018)
IMDB Score 6.6/10
Another look at a music industry mystery, it looks at the life and death of Jam Master Jay, a DJ in the influential hip hop group Run-D.M.C. He was fatally shot by an unknown assailant in 2002, and many suggest that it was because he defied the industry blacklisting of rapper 50 Cent. But were the real motives behind the DJ’s death?
ReMastered: Who Shot the Sheriff (2018)
IMDB Score 6.9/10
The most famous reggae artists of all times, Bob Marley survived an assassination attempt in 1976, only to die a few years later from cancer. The assassination is thought to have been linked with violent political suppression of the roots reggae movement in Jamaica, and to have involved the CIA. But what is the evidence in the case?
This documentary offers viewers a look into Indian music industry, and the rich heritage of Indian classical music. It also examines why the genre has declined in popularity, and speculates about what this might mean for the future.
This Was Tomorrow (2015)
IMDB Score 6.2/10
Tomorrowland is considered by many to be the best music festival in the world. It sparkles with positivity and diversity, and many musicians consider participating the highlight of their career. This is the movie embodiment of the festival, looking at the history and philosophy of the festival in a way that captures it positivity and the mix of cultural experiences on offer.
Vai Anitta (2018)
IMDB Score 5.4/10
This limited series follows the Brazilian music sensation Anitta right as she is on the cusp of making it big on the international stage. The star is endearing, and it offers a look at the challenges of breaking into the industry and the price that artists need to pay to make it.
What We Started (2017)
IMDB Score 7.5/10
This film chronicles three decades of electronic dance music buy focussing on the careers of the greats Carl Cox and Martin Garrix. It provides a fascinating look at the electronic music scene, and explains why it is growing so rapidly around the world.
When You’re Strange (2009)
IMDB Score 7.7/10
This documentary looks at famous American rock and the Doors from their formation in 1965 to the death of their lead singer, Jim Morrison, from a drug overdose in 1971. The film offers a lot of not seen before footage, and delves into the details of Morrison’s arrest and train in 1969. Any fan of the band will love this film, as will youngsters interested in the golden age of rock and roll.
Who the F**K is that Guy (2017)
IMDB Score 6.1/10
Another documentary looking at the lesser known stars of the music industry, the producers! It tells the story of gay Puerto Rican music executive Michael Alago, and how he rose to become the executive who signed Metallica, the Misfits, Cyndi Lauper, Nina Simone and John Lyndon.