Netflix this week quietly added just shy of 100 concert films and music documentaries featuring rock and pop legends like the Beatles, Queen, Toto and The Doors to its streaming catalog. The new music content doesn’t exactly make Netflix a Vevo or Wolfgang’s Vault competitor, but it could be a first indicator of music becoming yet another powerful niche for the company.
Many of the titles are live concert films recorded over the last 30 years, and some of the artists appearing in these concerts include Queen, Isaac Hayes, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, Ike & Tina Turner, Sinead O’Connor, Ray Charles, Deep Purple, the Wu Tang Clan, Tori Amos, ZZ Top and Korn. Other artists, including The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Jay-Z, Elton John, Nirvana, Alicia Keys, appear in music documentaries.
Netflix hasn’t made any announcement about this new wave of music content, but a company spokesperson sent me the following statement vie email:
“At Netflix we aim to provide great things to watch in many categories for our broad audience, the recent addition of concerts and documentaries is an example of that.”
As vague as that statement is, it seems to shed a little light on the direction that music content could play in Netflix’s future: It’s unlikely that Netflix would launch a major initiative to compete with Vevo or any other music video site, or even one of the many sites specializing in live music recordings.
However, Netflix has steadily been building out powerful niche content for a variety of audiences. The site has seen a huge influx of Korean dramas in recent months, for example, and it has also taken on a large catalog of Anime content — two very distinct categories with very passionate fan bases.
Classic rock and pop music concerts could eventually become another of those powerful niches: not big enough of a deal to get millions of new customers to sign up for Netflix, but important enough to a subset of its audience to keep them subscribed even after they’ve burned through all episodes of popular TV shows like Mad Men.