Because schools, restaurants, shops and many normal parts of our daily lives are shuttered for the time being, we thought we would put together a list of music documentaries you can watch on Netflix while you’re socially distancing. Learning some music history while keeping each other a bit more safe? Sounds ideal to us!
While this is a serious time and we know that our MI students will continue to take their music education seriously, in whatever matter we can, it’s still important to allow some time for self care. You can put away the books and instruments for an hour or two throughout the week to catch up on some Netflix. It’s good for the soul, we promise.
Netflix has done a great job of curating a wide variety of music documentary genres to choose from, so you can learn a bit more about your faves, but also explore an entirely new genre. It’ll make you a better musician!
You might find yourself a new passion in the mix before we get back to normally scheduled programming. Happy streaming.
1. Echo In The Canyon
Echo in The Canyon highlights stories from the musicians between 1965 and 1967 who were the leaders of the explosion of folk rock. It’s a lovely documentary of the history of this iconic California sound, with interviews from Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, Michelle Phillips and more.
2. Steve Aoki: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
This documentary follows the life and career of EDM superstar Steve Aoki, and how he was influenced by his trailblazing, entrepreneur dad, Rocky Aoki. The doc was nominated for a Grammy in 2016 for Best Music Film, so don’t miss it, especially if you’re an electronic music fan.
Amy is a heartbreaking look at the life of Amy Winehouse, full of personal videos and moments that will make you miss her talent more than ever before.
4. What Happened, Miss Simone?
This doc tells the story of the iconic Nina Simone through lost recordings and personal interviews in her own voice, which shine a light on the woman behind the voice.
This Netflix original only needed one name to let you know who this was about: Quincy. Quincy Jones and his influence is woven deeply into the history of American music, and this doc of his life, from a young jazz arranger to producer of the most iconic tracks of all time, will surprise you at every turn.
6. Woodstock: Three Days That Defined A Nation
Ever wonder what Woodstock was really like? This documentary is an amazing look at the music festival and how it truly happened, with awesome archival footage that many have never seen. Woodstock’s impact on music and society as whole will be undeniable after this watch!
7. Sample This
Sample This is a necessary watch for lovers of hip hop history. This doc uncovers the origins of the unmistakable “Apache” break which has been sampled in over 500 songs. Believe us, you’ve heard it.
8. The History of The Eagles
This documentary pretty much does what its title says, which is explain the history of The Eagles. The first part of the doc covers the band before their breakup in 1980, and the second part focuses on what happened beyond that. Some of the their musician friends were interviewed, including Kenny Rogers, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Stevie Nicks and more.
9. 20 Feet From Stardom
This amazing documentary highlights the backup singers who have all made a huge impact on the most popular recordings in our century. 20 Feet From Stardom interviews the voices that all of us have heard our entire lives, but could never put a name to, and we hear stories about them from the biggest musicians in the world.
10. Oasis: Supersonic
There’s no doubt that Oasis was at the forefront of Britpop at one point, and despite the brothers’ constant rivalry, they made some of the most iconic rock songs of the century.
11. Gaga: 5 Foot 2
Lady Gaga is loud and vivacious as a performer, but her doc 5 Foot 2 gives look into her life living with chronic pain, recording a new album, and dealing with relationships, all while preparing for the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Winner of a GRAMMY for Best Music Film, Beyonce’s Homecoming takes you behind the scenes for her now-iconic 2018 Coachella performance, which truly showed off how she’s become one of our greatest performers of all time.
13. Chasing Trane
Been itching to learn a little more about American music legends? Well this doc on John Coltrane will show you why he is considered on of the most influential saxophonists and jazz musicians in history.
14. FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
We all heard of the disaster of the Fyre Festival and this documentary is a darkly funny look into what happened to make this one of the lowest points in music festival history.
15. Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage
This film offers an in-depth look at the Canadian progressive rock band Rush, going through their history and musical evolution over the years. The film made its debut at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for Best Long Form Music Video at the Grammys, losing out to When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors.
16. Miss Americana
Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is part of pop culture. Her documentary Miss Americana follows her as she navigates her career after a few career blunders and returns to creating songs that she loves.
17. Searching For Sugarman
Searching for Sugar Man explores the career of Rodriguez, a musician who released a couple albums in the early 1970s and then disappeared. His music unknowingly became wildly popular in South Africa, and this documentary is how two fans set out to figure out what happened to their idol.
18. ReMastered: Who Shot The Sheriff?
Netflix’s ReMastered is a multi-episode series meant to delve into specific events in historical figures’ lives. Who Shot The Sheriff? focuses on Bob Marley’s involvement in the roots reggae movement and the mysterious circumstances around his shooting attempt in 1976.
19. Everybody’s Everything
Everybody’s Everything brings light to who musician Lil’ Peep was outside of his public persona and the mental illness which he suffered from most of his life. It is a great tribute to young artists who are diminishing far too early in the spotlight. Executively produced by Terrance Malick (A Hidden Life),
The 8 part series highlights different hip-hip artists as they share their life stories and their impact on current hip-hop culture. Some of the artists include, Logic, T.I., G-Eazy, 2 Chainz and more.