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There’s really nothing like a good music documentary. Rivaled only by maybe true crime and movie documentaries, music-based films are great because they show the story behind the stories of our favorite artists, songs, bands, and record labels.
When you love documentaries the best place to find them all together is a streaming platform. Netflix reigns supreme, but there are a lot of other options out there at a cheaper price. From Hulu to Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Showtime, and Paramount+, you can enjoy tens of thousands of movies and TV series from your TV, phone, and other streaming devices for under $20 a month. Hulu is the most affordable option out of the bunch with plans starting at just $5.99, which lets you access films and TV series, old and new. Hulu is great because it offers a Live TV option and it streams many of your favorite shows after they air on television. Hulu also offers a bundle deal with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $13.99 a month. Showtime costs $10.99 a month (after a free 30-day trial) and you can add it to a Hulu subscription.
HBO Max boasts a higher-priced subscription fee that’s worth every penny. For $14.99 members get to stream free Warner Bros. films for the first month after release, in addition to a massive library of blockbusters, classic shows, and exclusive programming. Amazon Prime, which is $12.99 a month for the all-inclusive membership allows you to stream titles from the Prime Video catalog, along with free two-day shipping on select items (Amazon also offers a solo subscription to Prime Video for $8.99 a month). Another option, the newly launched Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access), which will run you $4.99 a month after a 30-day free trial. The subscription unlocks access to thousands of shows and movies under the Paramount/ViacomCBS banner (that includes BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon), such as the first season of MTV’s “Diary.”
For the music loyalists who enjoy getting lost in a good documentary, this is the perfect roster of films to add to your watchlist. Check below for the seven best music documentaries that are currently streaming now on Hulu, HBO Max, and more.
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week”
This 2016 documentary from Ron Howard details how Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr became music phenoms who stormed Europe in the early 1960s and took over America. “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” details the band’s touring years from 1962 to 1966. The film footage includes the legendary performance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and their final concert in San Francisco in 1966. You can catch the documentary on Hulu.
“Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back”
In 1965 23-year-old Dylan set out to tour Europe, which included performances at Liverpool Odeon Theater, Sheffield City Hall, and the Royal Albert Hall, among other noted venues. “Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back” chronicles the tour with featured footage of Dylan, as well as his former manager, Albert Grossman, and singer-songwriter Bob Neuwirth. Originally released in 1967, the documentary was eventually entered into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for its cultural and historical significance. You can stream “Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back on HBO Max.
“David Bowie The Last Five Years”
The final five years of Bowie’s life are explored in this 2017 documentary, directed by Francis Whately. In 2013, Bowie surprised fans with the release of “The Next Day,” his first album following a 10-year music hiatus. The documentary chronicles that album’s release, as well as 2016’s “Blackstar” and Bowie’s off-Broadway musical, “Lazarus.” You can stream “David: Bowie The Last Five Years” on HBO Max.
“Whitney: Can I Be Me”
Written and directed by Nick Broomfield, “Whitney: Can I Be Me” details the life and death of one of music’s most luminary figures. Cutting together performance footage and interviews of Houston, the film dives into the New Jersey-born legend’s career beginnings, her struggle to maintain an identity in spite of her fame, and her relationships with ex-husband Bobby Brown and Robyn Crawford, Houston’s best-friend with whom she also shared an intimate relationship. “Whitney: Can I Be Me,” is streaming on Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Showtime.
A sobering look at a life cut short, “Amy,” the 2015 documentary helmed by award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia, is about the short career of Grammy-award winning singer Amy Winehouse and the battle with addiction that claimed her life. The film features archival footage of Winehouse from childhood coupled with recordings of her performances, candid moments in the studio, and her tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil. “Amy” serves up a harrowing look at Winehouse leading up to her fatal overdose in 2011. The documentary is streaming on Hulu.
“Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream”
Peter Bogdanovich gives a meticulous look at the legendary rock band in “Tom Petty and the Heatbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream.” The four-hour film, which was released in 2007 and named after Petty’s solo single, tracks the legendary rock band from its beginnings to the 30th-anniversary concert in Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, Florida. George Harrison, Eddie Vedder Stevie Nicks, Dave Grohl, Rick Rubin, and more appear in the documentary which is streaming on Amazon Prime.
“The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney”
Released earlier this year as a part of a documentary series by The New York Times which tackles a range of topics, “Framing Britney Spears” added more fuel to the #FreeBritneyMovement. The documentary, directed by Samantha Starks, looks back at Spears’ career, how she was treated by the press, and the current conservatorship that she had been under for several years. You can stream “The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears” on Hulu.