The chase for eyeballs has been a boon for eardrums. With a flood of money pouring in from streaming platforms such as Netflix , Hulu, Apple TV+ and Disney+ as they chase subscribers, artists young and old are cashing fat cheques for the screen rights to their lives, on- and offstage (so long as they retain final cut). Meanwhile, acclaimed directors including Peter Jackson ( The Beatles: Get Back ) and Todd Haynes ( The Velvet Underground ) have been drawn to music documentaries in ways not seen since Martin Scorsese fixed his lens on The Band for The Last Waltz or Jonathan Demme shot the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense . 2021 produced so many first-rate music documentaries. Here are some great moments from this year’s bounty. The Beatles: Get Back One thing’s for certain: The success of Jackson’s documentary, which traces the band’s final days through the precise culling and editing of 60 hours’ worth of filmed footage into eight , has legacy groups scouring their archives for their own documentary studio footage. Chances are, they won’t be as revelatory as this three-part, eight-plus-hour document, which offers a virtual TED Talk on the ways in which flesh-and-blood, tobacco-tethered humans transform stored energy into timeless music. Controlling Britney Spears That the pop star was the subject of four (!) feature-length documentaries in 2021 shouldn’t be surprising, and a look at any of them – Framing Britney Spears , Controlling Britney Spears , Toxic: Britney Spears’ Battle for Freedom and Britney Vs Spears – offers evidence of our collective obsession. Crucially, all that coverage was driven by a grass-roots social media campaign, #freebritney, that successfully sought to help Spears escape a court-sanctioned conservatorship overseen by her father, Jamie Spears . The most effective of the documentaries is Controlling Britney Spears , which offers not only a blow-by-blow account of the court proceedings, but also the ways in which devoted fans can effect real-life change. Listening to Kenny G You’re not really a superhero sax romancer until you come up with an equally memorable name, so when Clive Davis of Arista Records signed a curly-headed tenor saxophonist named Kenneth Gorelick in 1981 and suggested he come up with a snappier identifier, the young man did just that. “That was the moment little Kenny Gorelick became the G-Man,” says the musician and meme in Listening to Kenny G . The revelatory documentary offers a deep, multidimensional look at a critically maligned but immensely popular artist. “I don’t think I’m a personality to people. I’m a sound,” he notes at one point. Pavarotti to David Crosby, the rise of music documentaries The Velvet Underground Haynes’ loving, innovative ode to The Velvet Underground makes up for the band’s lack of archival performance footage with a feast of experimental films of the era from directors including Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas and Stan Brakhage. The result is a cascading flow of tightly edited moving images that provide unspoken context and fuel the documentary’s visual momentum. Woodstock ’99: Peace, Love and Rage “There’s no question that a few incidents took place,” says Woodstock ’99 co-promoter John Scher to the camera in this harrowing documentary about the riotous festival, which featured an aggro-heavy roster including Metallica, Limp Bizkit and Korn. Scher then goes on to blame scantily clad female victims for being sexually assaulted, artists for inciting the crowd and MTV for negatively reporting on issues such as the pools of raw sewage and the volumes of patrons being treated for heat exhaustion. For Scher and Woodstock founder Michael Lang, everyone was at fault, it seems, except for those charged with ensuring the festival’s safety. Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry As a teenage Eilish stands at the side of the stage in the moments before her high-profile Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival debut in 2019, her older brother and collaborator, Finneas, offers her one final bit of advice: “If anything’s going wrong, act like it’s not.” Those sage words were among the last Eilish heard before that life-changing performance. As proven by her recent gig as both host and performer on Saturday Night Live , the note apparently has served her well. Under the Volcano “I’m from Chicago. We don’t do volcanoes,” Verdine White, bassist for Earth, Wind & Fire, says of the band’s stay on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, in this film about the famed recording space AIR Studios Montserrat. Opened in the shadow of an active but long dormant volcano by Beatles producer George Martin in 1979, the famed compound offered acts including The Police, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder an immersive recording experience in a tropical paradise. The problem? For one, Hurricane Hugo, which devastated the island and the facility in 1989, forcing it to close. Six years later, the volcano erupted. It’s now a ghost compound.