Whether it's behind the scenes of a movie franchise or a famous musician, die-hard fans relish the opportunity to get a deeper look into the workings of an artist. As one of the top streaming platforms,Netflix has created–and given viewers access to–riveting storiesfocussing on some of the music industry's top artists.
Viewers are captivated by the emotional and heartfelt struggles artists face in making names for themselves, and they love watching them share their stories through documentaries. A variety of music documentaries on Netflix show the rise and fall of Grammy-winning artists, their lives before fame, and how they adjust tolife inthe limelight.
Updated on June 30th, 2022, by Shawn S. Lealos: While they might not be as popular as a scripted drama series like Stranger Things or a superhero movie like Spider-Man: No Way Home, there is a lot to love about a good music documentary. While Netflix will always offer the mainstream releases like those above, the streaming giant also knows that one key to keeping its subscription totals from dropping is to offer niche things that a smaller, but an important, group of subscribers want to see. Music documentaries fit that description, with some offering concert footage, others offering a look at the lives and travels of the musicians, and others looking posthumously at the greats of yesteryear. Since the streaming service often switches out what they offer, this list removed thosedocs that left and added some more greatmusic documentaries on Netflix.
No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)
If there is one iconic and legendary filmmaker who loves to make music documentaries, it is Martin Scorsese. He created one of the most legendary music documentaries of all time in the 1970s withThe Last Waltz, with The Band's final concert. One singer at that show who performed was Bob Dylan and Scorsese has since made two documentaries about that legendary singer as well.
No Direction Homeis one of the bestmusic documentaries on Netflix, released in 2005. It tells the story of Dylans' life from his arrival in New York in 1961 and his retirement from touring in 1966.
The Sparks Brothers (2021)
Edgar Wright had a great year in 2021 when it came to movies. He released the horror-thrillerLast Night in Soho and then followed that up with a documentary titled The Sparks Brothers, following the careers of the legendary and iconic indie music sensations.
The great news is that The Sparks Brothers is on Netflix now for all to see. For those unaware,The Sparks Brothersspent their entire career overlooked and ahead of the curve, meaning they made music that would be popular a few years later, but never had a chance to enjoy the height of that surge because they always changed their styles to whatever they felt was next. This music documentary on Netflix is possibly even better for people who have never heard of the band.
The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story (2019)
One of the most iconic rock bands in history is Queen, and their performances and songs recorded with the late Freddy Mercury remain legendary. However, after Mercury died, the band mostly disappeared outside of some concerts with names like George Michael and Eddie Vedder taking the lead role.
That all changed when Queen hired American Idol finalist Adam Lambert to become their new lead singer. The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story is anoriginal documentary on Netflix that tells the story of how the young singer helped bring the band back to the spotlight again.
ReMastered: The Two Killings Of Sam Cooke (2019)
Netflix has an original documentary series called ReMastered which tells the story in each doc about different musical artists. One of the best in the series hit in 2019withThe Two Killings of Sam Cooke. The story is a hybrid mix of a music documentary and a true crime story as it focuses on the murder of Sam Cooke in 1964 at the age of 33.
Sam Cooke was a soul singer who was also outspoken on civil rights issues. The title refers to how Sam Cooke died twice - once literally and once was the death of his promising musical career, with part of the documentary showing how important his music was in spreading his message of equality. Fans might also remember the name Sam Cooke from the movie One Night in Miami.
If I Leave Here Tomorrow (2018)
When looking through themusic documentaries on Netflix, there is one titledIf I Leave Here Tomorrow and it tells the story of the legendary southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. It mostly focuses on lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and is put together with interviews and archival footage.
The band formed in 1964 and became major stars in the 1970s thanks to songs like "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Freebird." Sadly, a plane crash in 1977 killed Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines, and left the rest of the band members seriously injured. This documentary on Netflix looks at the band up to that point.
Shawn Mendes: In Wonder (2020)
Shawn Mendes has never shied away from sharing his life with his fans, as it gives him the ability to connect with them on a deeper level. In 2020, Netflix released Shawn Mendes: In Wonder,whichchronicles the past few years of his life and his journey to abigger level of stardom.
The documentary showcases Mendes in a much more rawform, chronicling his struggles with anxiety and depression—even the nights where he feels the most alone. Among it all is his devotion to family, fans, and even his deep romance with fellow artist Camilla Cabello.
Keith Richards: Under The Influence (2015)
The notorious guitarist of the world-renown rock band The Rolling Stones, Netflix's 2015 documentary Keith Richards: Under The Influence offers a glimpse into the life of the aging rocker. Tracking his progress in the studio as he records a solo album while simultaneously recounting how he attained fame, it's a story all Stones fans need to hear.
Borrowing a few elements from his autobiography Life, Under the Influence examines Richards' philosophies on everything from classic blues singers to the human condition. It's one of the most fascinating music documentaries on Netflix, even for those who may not be familiar with the musician.
What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
Many famed artistsfromgenerations gone by have helped define music history. One of these artists is American singer, Nina Simone, who not only awed with her vocals but also inspired others with her civil rights activism. The music documentary on Netflix,What Happened, Miss Simone? featuresnever-seen-before archival footage of the singer, as well as interviews with her daughter and family.
The music documentaryiseye-opening, as it chronicles Simon's rise as one of the most profound jazz singers. Fans also get to see Simone's story of becoming an activist determined to take a stance.
Simply titledQuincy, this 2018 Netflix documentary is an intimate look into the life and career of Quincy Jones. The movie hit big and even won the Grammy for Best Music Film at the 2019 Grammy Awards. Co-directed by Jones' daughter Rashida Jones, the movie tells theimmense story ofthe 27 Grammy award-winning industry giant.
From his early days in childhood to his rise in music, the movie tells it all. Viewers get to see the artist in his prime to his more personal battles with health issues and the industry. There are even heartwarming interviews and stories of Hollywood's and the music industry's finest, depicting him as one of the greatest of all time.
BLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky (2020)
Television, movies, and the music industry have been hit hard with a deep love and admiration for K-Pop and South Korean culture. K-Pop bands like BTS and BlackPink have taken over billboard charts and reached global stardom. In 2020, Netflix released the documentaryBLACKPINK: Light Up The Sky,which focuses on the journey of Korea's top girl group BlackPink.
Fans of K-Pop and even newcomers can watch the personal stories of four young girls from different walks of lifestrive for the same dream. From their exhausting days as trainees to sold-out arenas around the world, BlackPink successfully became the top girl group in K-Pop music history.
Originally released in 2004, Some Kind of Monster catalog's the development of Metallica's most reviled album, St. Anger, along with all of the difficulties and infighting that came with it. Considered by members of the band to be Metallica's darkest period, Some Kind of Monster highlights the bleak realities that sometimes come with fame.
With band co-founders James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich constantly at each other's throats, the world's most recognizable heavy metal band seems to be falling apart at the seams. Fortunately, they would endure these turmoils and come out on the other side with a hard-hitting and insightful piece of heavy metal media.
Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell (2021)
There are countlessdocumentaries and specials about the life of rapperChristopher Wallace, A.K.A. The Notorious B.I.G, though many of them place a major emphasis on his mysterious death.The 2021 documentary Biggie: I Got A Story to Tell not only gives viewers rare footage of the rapper and in-depth interviews, but it's also a celebration of his life and career.
Among the bestmusic documentaries on Netflix, this onehas it all, fromBiggie'searly years to his journey to becoming the rap icon he was destined to become. Told through interviews and stories from his family and friends, Biggie is showcased as a multi-dimensional artist and person whose life ended tragically atthe height of his career.
Homecomingis considered to be a concert film, but many see it as an inside look and documentaryabout Beyoncé's creative process and her impact on a cultural movement. Written and directed by Beyoncé herself, the movie centers around the events leading up to and the day ofher performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Themoviereceived unanimous critical acclaim,with many praising it for its impactful moments, behind-the-scenes shots, and showing what makes Beyoncé the global icon that she is. There's so much more, as the documentary also details how Beyoncé is the first black woman to headline the festival and the impact of this.
In 2017, Netflix released acinéma vérité style documentary titled Gaga: Five Foot Two about the hit artist, Lady Gaga. The movie takes place over a year, showcasing the personal life of Gaga, from meeting her fans, working on new music, and even her battle withchronic pain caused by the onset of fibromyalgia.
The timeline of the movie is specific, as it takes place as Gaga is in the process of creating her fifth studio album, "Joanne." There's just about everything to explore here, from her Super Bowl performance and her emotional strugglesto her guest role in American Horror Story.
ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads
Posthumously dubbed the "King of the Delta Blues Singers," Robert Johnson is often considered to be one of the most influential guitarists of all time. Known for his uncanny skill, he lived an enigmatic and strange life, and it was rumored that he had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his amazing abilities as a musician.
Over the decades, speculation and rumor melded into an urban legend, and Johnson's legacy is often treated as something akin to an American folktale. Haunted by either the Devil himself or demons of his own making, Robert Johnson was a fascinating musician whose tale demands attention.
Miss Americana (2020)
Just about everyone has heard of Taylor Swift at this point, and fans of the singer and even those who aren't will be moved and awe-struck by thestory told inthis, one of the best music documentaries on Netflix. It takes place as Swift begins her 2019 album" Lover."
Being in the limelight for so many years, Swift reveals her inner turmoil and struggles that she kept from the public. The movie uses interviews, camera footage, home videos, and more, as well as her own voice to tell her story of battling body dysmorphia, an eating disorder, and even the scrutiny she faces on the internet.
NEXT:10 Taylor Swift Songs That Would Make Excellent Movies
Netflix has been upping their music genre titles over the past year or two, and in case you didn't know, they also have full concerts on offer.
- Open Netflix, either by starting the app on your mobile device or streaming device, or by navigating to Netflix.com in a browser.
- At the top of the screen (or at the top of the sidebar on TV apps), tap or click the search icon, shaped like a magnifying glass. ...
- Type your search.
Netflix has a bountiful of great documentaries that cover a diverse range of subjects, from true crime to sports to even filmmaking.
- No Direction Home (2005) ...
- Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story (2019) ...
- Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé (2019) ...
- Miss Americana (2020) ...
- The Sparks Brothers (2021) ...
- What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015) ...
- Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017) ...
- Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy (2022)
- Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry (Apple TV) ...
- Lil Peep: Everybody's Everything (Netflix) ...
- Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives (Vimeo, YouTube) ...
- Pick It Up! - ...
- Hip-Hop Evolution (Netflix) ...
- You Don't Know Ivan Julian (Amazon)