Filmmakers have long been telling stories about musicians and big musical milestones, but, it goes without saying that last year could easily be considered the year of the music docuseries as streaming services poured millions of investment dollars into the genre.
To get a better understanding of the docuseries landscape and identify any audience trends, we used the MarketCast monthly Streaming Tracker to analyze millions of social media conversations, as well as fan surveys, to understand their thoughts and feelings about 2021 releases. Our research found common story themes that drove the most intense advocacy and engagement among fans, including: 1) artist vulnerability and redemption, 2) dissecting the creative process, 3) historical significance and nostalgia, and 4) showcasing the power of music in popular culture. Here are the series and films that stood out most in 2021 according to our research:
1. Hulu and the New York Times’ Framing Britney Spears sparks a worldwide movement.
The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears (on Hulu) brought the “Free Britney” movement mainstream, and promotion of the film was helped along by ongoing, high-profile media coverage (in the NY Times and beyond) of her fight to win back control of her life and finances from her conservator father. Fan engagement on social media resulted in more than 500,000 posts and the film was MarketCast’s highest performing music documentary of the year according to our 2021 Streaming Tracker.
2. Demi Lovato gets real about their sobriety in a YouTube Original Series.
The YouTube Original, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, garnered more than 661,440 social media posts from fans and a staggering 5-15 million views per episode on YouTube. The series documents the aftermath of Lovato’s 2018 Tell Me You Love Me world tour, during which the singer suffers a near-death drug overdose.Fan reactions to the series was overwhelmingly positive, with one Twitter fan saying: “Everyone needs to watch this Demi Lovato documentary on YouTube. I’m utterly speechless and it has me sobbing in tears watching it.”
3. Billie Eilish and The Beatles score with fans.
The Beatles: Get Back on Disney+ and Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry on Apple TV+ succeeded in going deep behind-the-scenes to understand the making of new albums and tracks. Both highlight how the artists’ process impacts their lives and the lives of those around them. Fans loved how these series/films pushed past the gossip and glitz and got to the heart of creating great music. Combined, Get Back and Billie Eilish generated more than 500,000 social media mentions and held Top 3 rankings on MarketCast’s Streaming Tracker in 2021.
4. Questlove’s Summer of Soul showcases the power of Black cultureand music.
Hulu’s and Searchlight’s Summer of Soul is a music doc that speaks to the importance of music to a broader cultural movement. Summer of Soul follows 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival, which took place just 100 hundred miles from Woodstock, but remains largely ignored by historians and the media. Like The Beatles: Get Back, Summer of Soul shows incredible, never before-seen footage, celebrating Black music and the power of community during very turbulent times.Reaching #2 for Fan Evangelism in the MarketCast Streaming Tracker, Summer Soul was a fan favorite despite being overshadowed by bigger, well-promoted content in the genre. According to one social media fan: “Everybody should watch ‘Summer of Soul’ on Hulu. It’s a beautiful, raw depiction of Black culture.”
5. The life of Tina Turner is celebrated by HBO Max.
In 2021, several films were released to celebrate the lives of some of the most beloved (and sometimes controversial) artists and producers. To coincide with Tina Turner’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, HBO Max released Tina, which offered a detailed look at the life and career of the now 82-year singer and actress. Fans across social media thought it was simply the best.
To learn more about how MarketCast is analyzing millions of social media conversations and monitoring sentiment, contact us.
*This article was originally published via Music Ally.