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  • Writer's pictureCosmic Academy

The 6 Best Documentaries for Music Producers

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

Documentaries are absolutely incredible. For music producers, there aren’t many books on the work we do. Making music, DJing, performing --- these are all very visual in nature. It’s hard to “read about” someone making a song. This makes The Documentary, one of the perfect sources of great information on music production. Here’s some of our favorite documentaries that will enrich your mind (and a damn good time!).

1. What We Started

For an amazing look at the history of Electronic Dance Music, look no further than “What We Started.” This documentary chronicles three decades of dance music from the producers and DJ that forged the scene. Going from the legend, Carl Cox, who helped create the movement in the 1990s, to the superstar Martin Garrix, who now headlines the Mainstage, you get to see a complete picture of Dance Music History.

2. The Defiant Ones

Anyone interested in hip hop, pop, or even just general music production – will LOVE this documentary. It dissects the careers of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, two men from different musical backgrounds (and generations), who ended up working together on the biggest labels of the 1990s, and eventually forming Beats by Dre. Jimmy Iovine produced for the likes of Bruce Springstein and U2, prior to running Interscope Records and signing legends like Tupac, while Dr. Dre is responsible for producing NWA, Snoop Dogg, and discovering Eminem. Hearing how these producers intersect and worked together, is profound and important for understanding collaboration. It’s a must watch!

3. Avicii True Stories

As massive fans of Avicii, we absolutely love this documentary. “True Stories” timelines the career of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii, through the ups-and-downs of a successful career in music production. This film does a great job at showing the truth of the music business. It’s not all fun and high times. There’s a dark side to this business. And it’s important to see it all. We miss you Tim.

4. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

Whether you’re a fan of Steve Aoki or not, this documentary is an incredible journey through the eyes of one of the hardest working touring artists. Aoki plays about 300 shows a year, has had some massive records, and shows an amazing amount of balance. There’s a lot you can learn from this one, and it’s a fun ride to share.

5. DJ AM – As I Am

For those who don’t know, EDM DJs were not the first DJs to break through to the big stages. The “Mashup” DJ came first, and it was DJ AM who really started everything. You’ll see how he forged the way for what we see today from the biggest music producers / djs. From the club residencies to the major Vegas shows – he was the pioneer. A lot of major producers you love today were introduced by DJ AM -- Diplo, Steve Aoki, etc to name a few. You’ll also learn about AM’s struggles with mental health and substance abuse (an important topic today). This is a great documentary.

6. Swedish House Mafia – Take One

Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso created a movement in EDM known as Swedish House Mafia. This documentary covers their origins, up until their first major record and Ultra Mainstage performance. What’s incredible about this particular documentary is seeing how collaboration between music producers can lead to incredible results. These three artists were huge on their own, but Swedish House Mafia was much bigger than anyone could have imagined. You’ll also get an insight into their creative process and how three accomplished producers can feed off one another to create something magical. Regardless of your fandom for SHM, definitely put this one on your list!

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