The 50 Best Music Documentaries You Can Stream Right Now, from ‘Homecoming’ to ‘Miss Americana’
Let’s face it: You’ve already watched the best true-crime documentaries and binged Bling Empire in one day. Now, you’re in need of something new to fill the void, like a great music documentary that'll offer insight into the world's best artists. Whether you're leaning towards pop stars like Shawn Mendes or fascinated by legends like Aretha Franklin, streaming platforms like Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix offer a wealth of compelling options that'll satisfy your craving. From Beyoncé’s Homecoming to Lady Gaga’s Five Foot Two, here are 50 of the best music documentaries you can start streaming right now.
1. Homecoming (2019)
Most of us weren’t at Coachella when Beyoncé headlined—but surely you remember back in 2018 when her fans renamed the fest Beychella? Luckily for Netflix users, the Lemonade singer released a concert film of the historical performance. The two-hour documentary, directed by the singer and Ed Burke, showcases the entire show, including clips of the grueling rehearsals Beyoncé endured.
2. Miss Americana (2020)
Taylor Swift lets viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at her personal life, the highs and lows of her career and the writing process that went into her Reputation and Lover albums. From sharing her battle with body dysmorphia to going public with her political views, the documentary showcases interviews with Swift, along with home videos, concert footage and even shots of her adorable cats.
3. Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017)
This documentary explores the lengths that Lady Gaga went to (physically, emotionally and mentally) to create and release Joanne, while preparing for the biggest performance in her career: the Super Bowl halftime show. This film, which was directed by Chris Moukarbel, gives fans a raw, intimate look into the star’s process.
4. Rapture (2018)
This riveting docuseries, which includes eight one-hour episodes, follows the lives of established and rising hip-hop artists. From Nas to A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, viewers can join them in the studio and see what life is like when they’re on tour. Other stars include Logic, T.I, 2 Chainz and Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda.
5. Hip-Hop Evolution (2016)
Ice-T, Lil’ Kim, Public Enemy and LL Cool J are just a few famous faces that you'll spot in this Canadian docuseries. The doc follows the history of hip-hop and notable artists who have made an impact on the genre. Each episode features interviews with DJs, producers, promoters and artists, taking viewers on a journey to understand the beginning of hip-hop and how it has influenced today’s culture.
6. What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)
The biographical documentary follows the life of American singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone. The film unravels her story through previously unreleased footage and interviews with Simone’s family and friends. It includes a tribute performance by John Legend and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.
7. Amy (2015)
The peaks and valleys of British singer Amy Winehouse’s career were truly heartbreaking. This documentary covers her rise to fame as well as the addiction that sadly led to her untimely death. The star’s friends and family remember her life, while previously unreleased footage and songs help to tell her tale. The critically acclaimed film got 33 nominations and won 30 film awards, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
8. The Black Godfather (2019)
Do you know the name Clarence Avant? Well, you should. The music executive is known as “the godfather of Black music,” and this film displays the impact he’s had on the music industry. From running record labels like Venture Records, Sussex Records and Motown Records to serving as a concert organizer, Avant worked with people like R&B singer Little Willie John, jazz singer Sarah Vaughan and rock ’n’ roll pioneer Tom Wilson. The cast includes Bill Clinton, Sean Combs, Jesse Jackson and more.
9. Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly (2019)
You know Travis Scott’s songs, but how much do you know about his story? Learn about the making of his Grammy-nominated album, Astroworld, and his rise to fame. The film, directed by White Trash Tyler and Cactus Jack, includes behind-the-scenes moments in the studio, live performances and touching moments with his daughter.
10. Devil at the Crossroads (2019)
Interesting title for a documentary, isn't it? Well, it turns out the name is based on a myth that blues singer Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil in order to achieve fame and success. He is one of the most influential blues guitarists in the world, and this offers an understanding of his untimely death, career and musical lyrics.
11. Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019)
Learn all about jazz legend Miles Davis through previously unseen footage, interviews and home videos. In this two-hour doc, the trumpet player and bandleader is shown breaking barriers and playing by his own rules (something that became a growing issue in his career). Davis made waves in jazz and inspired other genres to break away from tradition.
12. ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas (2019)
Discover the ins and outs of blues-rock trio ZZ Top. Billy F. Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard make an appearance to talk about being a band for 50 years, life on the road and the moments that changed their lives, from the ’70s until now.
13. Quincy (2018)
Over the course of his career, record producer Quincy Jones recorded 2,900 songs, 300 albums, 51 film and television scores, and more than 1,000 original compositions. He also racked up a casual 79 Grammy nominations and 27 Grammy awards. Phew. In this two-hour documentary (that’s directed by his daughter, actress Rashida Jones), those staggering figures show just how remarkable Jones’s impact on the music industry has been.
14. Echo in the Canyon (2018)
Echo in the Canyon reveals the history of Laurel Canyon, a neighborhood that inspired many great musicians of the ’60s, including the Byrds and the Beach Boys. The film celebrates the music and collaborations, as well as how Laurel Canyon’s influence still reverberates today. Tune in for interviews with and performances from David Crosby, Ringo Starr and Tom Petty.
15. What We Started (2017)
Have you ever wanted to understand EDM? This film goes beyond the beats and the bass to show how electronic music has evolved and where the genre will go in the future. Two DJs, Carl Cox and Martin Garrix, share their firsthand experiences, but viewers can also look forward to special appearances from Usher, Ed Sheeran and David Guetta.
16. 20 Feet From Stardom (2013)
This Academy–Award winning film highlights the underdogs of the music industry: backup vocalists. Get to know how important Judith Hill, Darlene Love and many others were and how they boosted the careers of today’s biggest talents. The film also highlights archival footage and features interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Stevie Wonder, to name a few.
17. Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Story (2016)
Immerse yourself in the talents of jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane through interviews, footage and commentary by Denzel Washington, Common and many more. John Scheinfeld's film follows how his talent shaped the jazz community and inspired future saxophone players.
18. Oasis: Supersonic (2016)
Step inside the ’90s as this documentary follows the rise of Manchester, England–based rock band Oasis. Created by the same producers of Amy, this film brings viewers on the journey from Oasis’s inception to their overnight success and how the sibling rivalry between two members, Noel and Liam Gallagher, almost cost them everything.
19. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2016)
Learn about the biggest DJ of the 21st century, Steve Aoki. The DJ leads viewers through his career and unveils the inspiration behind his success, his father Rocky Aoki (the founder of Benihana and a daredevil showman). The film includes interviews from his family as well as artists and DJs like Diplo, Tiesto and Will.i.Am.
20. Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
There are dedicated fans and then there are the fans who made Searching for Sugar Man. Two admirers try to track down Detroit singer Rodriguez decades after he stepped away from the spotlight, amid rumors that the ’70s rock icon might be dead. Follow along as we learn more about Rodriguez and see how the fans’ investigative quest ends.
21. Bad Rap (2016)
Bad Rap, which was directed by Salima Koroma, follows four Korean American artists (including Golden–Globe winning actress Awkwafina) and their struggle to be accepted in the entertainment industry. It’s a deep dive into race and music, uncovering the obstacles they face while trying to go mainstream. Jonathan Park, David Lee and Richard Lee also star.
22. Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives (2017)
Learn about the 50-year career of music producer Clive Davis. The two-hour feature displays the impact he’s had on the music industry through his keen eye for discovering talent and helping artists reach the top of the charts, including Whitney Houston (who makes a significant impact in a portion of the storytelling). It also features interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Paul Simon and many more who join in to reminisce about Davis’s influence.
23. Amazing Grace (2018)
Follow the Queen of Soul as she records her 1972 live album, Amazing Grace, at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Directed by Alexander Hamilton, the film reveals quite a few famous faces in the audience, from Charlie Watts to Mick Jagger.
24. The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir (2015)
The documentary focuses on Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and what it was like to be part of America’s greatest rock band. Viewers learn about the Grateful Dead and the ’60s through interviews with band members, including Weir himself.
25. Once in a Lifetime Sessions with OneRepublic (2018)
Here’s your front-row ticket to a OneRepublic concert. From their classical music background to lead singer Ryan Tedder breaking down how he created some of their biggest hits, including “Apologize” (and collaborating with artists like Paul McCartney and Beyoncé), this film provides background into what separates the band members from their music.
26. Rolling Stones Ole, Ole, Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America (2016)
Have you ever wanted to be on the Rolling Stones’ tour bus? Fortunately, this film gives you the chance to see what it would be like. Follow along as the iconic band travels through South America and Mexico during their 2016 tour before heading to Cuba, where they performed for more than 500,000 concertgoers.
27. Sample This (2012)
Music producer Michael Viner might be relatively unknown, but you’ve definitely heard his work. See how the Incredible Bongo Band’s failed album became the catalyst for many hip-hop songs from artists like Will Smith, Jay-Z and Missy Elliot, while creating an anthem for the Bronx.
28. Tokyo Idols (2017)
Kyoko Miyake's film follows J-pop idol Rio Hiiragi and provides a deep dive into her fan base (which is mostly 20- to 40-year-old men). This doc shows how J-pop has impacted Japanese culture and led to the objectification of these “idols.” Definitely worth a watch.
29. WHitney: Can I Be Me (2017)
The documentary offers a detailed, comprehensive look at the legendary singer's life and career, pulling from archival footage of Houston's family and loved ones, including her mother, Cissy Houston, her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, and her late daughter, Bobbi Kristina. The doc also explores the late musician's relationships with her relatives, while also addressing her history of drug abuse.
30. Who the F**k Is That Guy?: The Fabulous Life of Michael Alago (2017)
In this doc, you''l learn all about record executive Michael Alago. From dealing with addiction and becoming HIV positive to rising through the ranks as one of the most influential record moguls, Alago has experienced a series of ups and downs in his life. But highlights include signing rock band Metallica and working with artists like Cyndi Lauper and Nina Simone, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
31. Joe Cocker: Mad Dog with Soul (2017)
Dive into the archives of Joe Cocker, the soulful singer who rose to fame through his legendary rendition of the Beatles song, "A Little Help from My Friends." The documentary includes performances and interviews with friends, family and notable musicians like Billy Joel.
32. Once in a Lifetime Sessions with Nile Rodgers (2018)
Similar to Once in a Lifetime Sessions with OneRepublic, this documentary follows rhythm guitarist and Chic cofounder Nile Rodgers. Viewers can learn how Rodgers produces, composes and writes music. Tune in for live performances, recording studio sessions and the process of transforming some of his most iconic songs into modern music like “Everybody Dance,” “Let’s Dance” and the Daft Punk collaboration “Get Lucky.”
33. Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You (2020)
Get a glimpse of Ariana Grande's down-to-earth personality as she shares backstage rehearsals and intimate behind-the-scenes moments from her 2019 Sweetener World Tour. In this concert film, expect to see several performances, including "7 Rings," "Thank U, Next," "Dangerous Woman" and more.
34. Long Time Running (2017)
Follow the rock band The Tragically Hip as they prepare to do their last show in their native country, Canada, following lead singer Gord Downie’s cancer diagnosis. The documentary (named after one of the band’s songs) provides highlights of the group’s 30-year journey and the emotions that come with giving their fans one last show.
35. Once in a Lifetime Sessions with Moby (2018)
Another edition of the Once in a Lifetime Sessions, this 90-minute flick follows producer and DJ Moby as he recounts his childhood, his musical inspirations and the meaning behind his most popular songs, including “Natural Blues” and “Extreme Ways.”
36. The Lion’s Share (2019)
Many of us grew up watching The Lion King and know the famous song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” but few are aware of its origin. South African journalist Rian Malan goes on the hunt to discover the song’s roots and fights for the forgotten writer to receive fair compensation for his hit. The cast also includes Solomon Linda and Delphi Linda.
37. Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything (2019)
Artist Lil Peep died of an overdose in November 2017 at the young age of 21. This film remembers his life and how he was able to blend genres together to create a signature sound. It also shows how the rise of internet culture had a massive impact on the future of music.
38. Once in a Lifetime Session with George Ezra (2018)
In this film, English singer and songwriter George Ezra performs some of his biggest hits, including “Shotgun” and “Budapest.” He also discusses his transition from bassist hiding in the shadows to lead singer in the spotlight.
39. Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am? (2019)
Saxophonist and E Street Band member Clarence Clemons took a trip to China in 2005, where he had a spiritual awakening. This film presents a look at how that trip affected his entire life. Former band members, friends, family and even Bill Clinton recall his compelling story.
40. Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago (2016)
From their chart-topping hits to being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the rock band Chicago is one of a kind. This film shows the bumpy road Chicago took toward becoming known as the “horn band,” as one of the few to incorporate a horn section into their music.
41. Once in a Lifetime Sessions with TLC (2018)
Part of one of the most popular female groups of all time, TLC's Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins join the Once in a Lifetime Sessions docuseries to talk about music, life and performing after the tragic death of band member Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopez. The film features live performances and studio sessions with the surviving members.
42. Once in a Lifetime Sessions with Noel Gallagher (2018)
Noel Gallagher leads viewers through his creative process and his musical journey with Oasis. Watch him perform some of the rock band’s greatest hits like “Supersonic” and enjoy a debut of his own work.
43. Parchis (2019)
Long before One Direction, there was Parchis, a Spanish children’s band that became a social phenomenon. Since being introduced in the late ’70s, the band (whose name is a reference to the board game parchís) found outstanding success in music and film. This doc is no exception.
44. Shawn Mendes: In Wonder (2020)
Expect to see a lot of unfiltered moments in this heartfelt documentary. Or, as the director, Grant Singer, would describe it, "an immersive, exhilarating, cinematic and beautiful portrait of the world that he lives in." Mendes takes fans on an intimate journey through his own rise to superstardom, opening up about what he's learned and how fame has changed him.
45. The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (2020)
Named after their 1971 hit song of the same title, this documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the story behind the iconic Gibb brothers, better known as the Bee Gees. Directed by filmmaker Frank Marshall (best known for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the doc features never-before-seen footage of recording sessions, concert performances, TV appearances and interviews.
46. Tina (2021)
If you're a big fan of Tina Turner's music, then you should definitely carve two hours out of your day to check out this heart-wrenching documentary. It follows the life and career of the iconic singer, who unfortunately endured abuse behind the scenes. According to HBO, the doc includes a "wealth of never-before-seen footage, audio tapes, personal photos, and new interviews, including with the singer herself."
47. Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (2010)
Viewers can follow the 40-year reign of Canadian band Rush through live performances, celebrity interviews (with musicians like Gene Simmons, Sebastian Bach and Jack Black, to name a few) and old recordings of the band. The film follows the obstacles they had to face in the club circuit, dives deep into their writing process and shows how they became a rock band with the third most consecutive gold and platinum albums (following the Beatles and the Rolling Stones). All while maintaining a close friendship to this day.
48. Keith Richards: Under the Influence (2015)
Catch a glimpse of Rolling Stones rock icon Keith Richards working on his first solo album Crosseyed Heart, while diving into his musical career as a performer and songwriter. The film follows Richards as he tours with the Rolling Stones in 2015, with appearances from bands and musicians like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf who have inspired the legend.
49. Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006)
The concert film documents the big premiere of his album Prairie Wind at the Ryman Auditorium. It also features interviews with Young and the members of his band, including his former wife, Pegi Young and steel guitarist Ben Keith. FYI, Young famously recorded Prairie Wind before undergoing surgery for a brain aneurysm.
50. Zappa (2020)
With never-before-seen archival footage, Zappa includes a deep dive into the private life of musician Frank Zappa, who was known for his bold and controversial music. Alex Winter’s film features appearances by Frank’s widow, Gail Zappa, and many of Frank’s collaborators, including Mike Keneally, Ian Underwood, Steve Vai and Pamela Des Barres.