A New Documentary Traces How Piracy Overhauled the Music Industry

‘How Music Got Free’ features interviews with Eminem, 50 Cent, Timbaland and more.

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Music
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In the streaming age, the concept of music piracy seems eons behind us. Back in the early 2000s, however, pirates shook up the industry by stealing and illegally distributing MP3s, which listeners would otherwise have to pay for.

How Music Got Free takes viewers back to the ‘90s and early aughts, when the FBI launched a sprawling investigation into music piracy to identify – and convict – those stealing music. Even once the thieves were discovered, mass music piracy was blamed for permanently devaluing music.

Directed by Alexandria Stapleton, the two-part documentary premiered at SXSW earlier this year.

“From New York City, to Los Angeles, to the small factory town of Shelby, North Carolina, the two-part series features the quirky genius of the heretofore-unknown “pirates,” the drama of the FBI investigations and convictions, and the frontline accounts of music’s biggest artists and executives,” the film’s logline reads. “An unbelievable story of cunning, illegality, celebrity, and innovation, these are the events that changed the music industry forever.”

Stapleton executive produced the film alongside Eminem, LeBron James and more. Method Man serves as a narrator, while Eminem also recounts his experience of music privacy on-screen, alongside other artists like 50 Cent, Timbaland, Jimmy Iovine, Rocsi Diaz and Rhymefest.

Watch the trailer for How Music Got Free above. The documentary will debut on Paramount+ on June 11 in the US and Canada, followed by an international release on June 12.

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