Music documentaries to relieve lockdown lethargy!

Blog by Stef Loukes under Artist Managers, Creative & Branding, Finance, Law & Music Business, Live, Media, Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers, Record Labels, Recording & Production, Selling & Distributing Your Music

No matter how you’re dealing with lockdown - bursts of creativity & productivity, balanced with sitting around in your dressing gown all day eating crisps perhaps? - we’re fairly sure things are starting to feel a little like Groundhog Day by now.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best music documentaries and series currently available across various streaming platforms. Maybe you'll learn something new? Maybe you'll get an injection of inspiration?! At the very least you’ll keep yourself entertained for a few hours as another loooong lockdown day passes. 

BBC iPlayer

Underestimate The Girl
Intimate portrait of British singer-songwriter Kate Nash, following her journey over several years in her pursuit to remain a creatively and financially independent artist.

Rap Trip: Underground Scenes Uncovered
A rap documentary series uncovering underground rap scenes around the UK.

Stewart Copeland’s Adventures in Music
3 part series exploring the power music has to bring people together.

Avicii: True Stories
Unparalleled insight into the beginnings and career of Avicii, with lots of personal and family footage unveiling Tim Berling, who became on of the world's most renowned EDM DJs, but tragically committed suicide in 2018.

Ronnie's: Ronnie Scott & His World Famous Jazz Club
A celebration of the legacy of Ronnie Scott and his renowned London Jazz club with previously unseen and unheard performances.

When Bob Marley came to Britain
Documentary examining Bob Marley’s special relationship with Britain and how he inspired a generation of Black British youth.

Soul America
Series investigating the history of Soul music, tracing it back through gospel and R&B origins

A.Dot's Story of Grime
1Xtra’s A.Dot gets under the skin of the modern grime scene.


Oasis: Supersonic
Documentary film detailing the rise of Oasis, and of course, the creativity and chaos that brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher brought to the iconic band. 

Hours of behind the scenes footage reveal rapper MIA's journey from her childhood in Sri Lanka to music and political activism.

Song Exploder - How Music Gets Made
Some of music's biggest stars reveal their songwriting and creative processes.

Rolling Thunder Revue
In an alchemic mix of fact and fantasy, Martin Scorsese looks back at Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour and a country ripe for reinvention.

What Happened, Miss Simone?
The story of legendary singer and activist Nina Simone, featuring never-before-heard recordings, rare archival footage and her best-known songs.

Gaga: Five Foot Two
Follow pop provocateur Lady Gaga as she releases a new album, preps for her Super Bowl halftime show, and confronts physical and emotional struggles.

20 Feet From Stardom (Also on Amazon Prime)
Winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, this film takes a look at the world of backup vocalists and the legends they support.

This intimate, in-depth look at Beyoncé's celebrated 2018 Coachella performance reveals the emotional road from creative concept to cultural movement.

A documentary profiling music and culture icon Quincy Jones, offering access to his private life and stories from his unparalleled career.

Hip-Hop Evolution
Series documenting the evolution of hip-hop from the 1970 to the ‘00s, featuring interviews with influential MCs, DJs and hip-hop moguls.

The Defiant Ones
Four-part documentary series telling the story of the improbable partnership of Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, co-founders of Beats Electronics.

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
Surely you’ve already seen this one, but if not, you’re in for a treat! A guide on how NOT to organise a music festival!

Also check out…

Miss Americana (Taylor Swift) 
The Rolling Stones: Olé Olé Olé! A Trip Across Latin America
Lemmy (Also on Amazon Prime)
Duran Duran: There’s Something You Should Know
Whitney: Can I Be Me? 
ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas
Springsteen on Broadway
Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage
Remastered: Who Shot The Sheriff? (Bob Marley)
Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our Lives
ANIMA (Thom Yorke)
I Called Him Morgan (Lee Morgan)
Sample This
The Dirt (Motley Crue)
Travis Scott: Look Mom I Can Fly
Remastered: Devil At The Crossroads (Robert Johnson)
I’m With The Band: Nasty Cherry (Charli XCX)
Keith Richards: Under The Influence
Reincarnated (Snoop Dogg)
What We Started
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (Steve Aoki)

Amazon Prime

Heima by Sigur Ros
Icelandic alternative rockers Sigur Ros return to their picturesque homeland for a series of free, unannounced concerts.

Searching for Sugar Man
The incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar in the late '60s, his album bombed, but little did he know that a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next 2 decades, he became a phenomenon.

808: The Heart of the Beat that Changed Music
Documentary about the story of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. The tale of the birth of electronic music, and how one small machine changed the musical landscape forever... by accident.

Sound City
Produced and directed by Dave Grohl, this documentary film explores the history of recording studio Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Los Angeles.

Gimme Danger
Iggy Pop asked producer Jim Jarmusch to create this film, telling the story of The Stooges through archival video, unseen photographs and new animated sequences.

Heartbreaking documentary film taking an intimate look at the troubled life of Whitney Houston.

Directed by Anton Corbijn, this biographical film charts the life of Ian Curtis, singer of the post-punk band Joy Division.

Made in America
Director Ron Howard goes behind the scenes on a festival created by rapper Jay-Z. 

Can't You Hear the Wind Howl? The Life & Music of Robert Johnson
Award-winning documentary about the life and music of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson.

Daft Punk Unchained
An exploration of the mysterious French electronic duo.

A Band Called Death
Long before Bad Brains and The Sex Pistols, 3 brothers from Detroit formed the first punk band in the 1970s. 

Also check out…

Bob Dylan: Roads Rapidly Changing 
Nick Drake: Under Review
L7: Pretend We're Dead (Also on Now TV/Sky Arts)
Adele - The Only Way Is Up
Biggie & Tupac
Crosby Stills & Nash - Fifty By Four
Pink: Staying True
Eminem: The Marshall Plan
David Bowie: Under Review 1976-79 The Berlin Trilogy
Metallica - Some Kind Of Monster 
Life After Death from Above 1979 
The Carter (Lil Wayne) 
Sam Smith: Dreams Come True
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Runnin Down A Dream
Joy Division
Punk In London
Creating Woodstock
Blur - Starshaped
24 Hour Party People

Now TV/Sky Arts

Hansa Studios: By The Wall 1976-90
The legendary Hansa Studios in Berlin hosted David Bowie and Iggy Pop, U2 and Brian Eno.

Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records
Tracing the label's history from ska and rocksteady to its legacy of bringing reggae to a global audience.

Studio 54: The Documentary
Documentary revisiting the iconic nightclub which went on to define a generation, covering everything from celebrity guests and performers to tax troubles and drug scandals.

Muscle Shoals
Documentary about FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which brought together artists of different races on songs such as ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘'ll Take You There’ and ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’

Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets
Featuring gig footage and candid interviews, the band return to their hometown of Sheffield for their final performance. 

The Agony & The Ecstasy
Explore the history of dance and rave culture in the UK in this 3 part series, featuring Goldie, Norman Jay and Paul Oakenfold.

Also check out…

Rock & Roll
Rolling Stone: Stories From The Edge
Suburban Steps to Rockland 
The Festival That Rocked The World
DOA: A Rite of Passage (Sex Pistols)
Beside Bowie: The Mick Ronson Story
Here to be Heard: The Story of The Slits 
Iggy Pop: American Valhalla 
Joan Jett: Bad Reputation 
Joe Cocker: Mad Dog with Soul
John Lennon: Imagine
KoRn: Loud Krazy Love
More Than This: The Story of Roxy Music
Oasis: There We Were, Now Here We Are
Pink Floyd: The Story of Wish You Were Here
The Rise & Fall of The Clash
Suede: The Insatiable Ones
The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead
The Story of The Jam
XTC: This is POP

YouTube & other video platforms

Beware of Mr Baker 
A documentary following the eccentric but much revered jazz and rock drummer, member of the band Cream, Ginger Baker - this is well worth a watch!

The Punk Singer
Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna became a pioneer of the Riot Grrl movement in the 1990s, and an outspoken feminist icon.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Canadian Heavy Metal band Anvil had a fleeting moment of success in the 80s. 25 years on they have day jobs and families, but there may be a final chance to break through.

The Devil & Daniel Johnston
Lauded as one of the world’s most talented songwriters by Beck and Kurt Cobain, this documentary chronicles Johnston's life from childhood, with an emphasis on his experiences with bipolar disorder.

Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains The Same
Filmed across 3 nights of gigs at Madison Square Gardens, New York, this concert film is described as ‘bombastic, pretentious and narcissistic’ - just what you expect from a rock band!

The Boiler Room films/documentaries
From the history of Jungle pirate radio to Detroit's house music scene, The Boiler Room have a great and varied selection of short films and documentaries.

Others recommended to rent or buy

Of course, we could go on forever with music DVD releases, so here’s a summary of The Unsigned Guide’s faves that are definitely worth a watch! Check out the trailers...

David Bowie: The Last Five Years

George Harrison - Living in the Material World

Shut Up & Play the Hits

Standing in the Shadows of Motown

Cobain: Montage of Heck


One More Time With Feeling


List of music documentaries on Netflix Amazon Prime NowTV and YouTube


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