‘How Music Got Free’ Docuseries, Produced by Eminem and LeBron James, Set for June Release on Paramount+

how music got free
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how music got free
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A new docuseries on the history of music piracy, How Music Got Free, is set to begin streaming in June. Photo Credit: Paramount+

Following a premiere at SXSW, How Music Got Free, an Eminem-, Steve Stoute-, and LeBron James-produced docuseries about the history of music piracy, is officially set for a June streaming debut on Paramount+.

Paramount+ just recently announced the two-part project’s quick-approaching release, scheduled specifically for June 11th in the U.S. as well as Canada and June 12th in Australia, Latin America, the U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy.

Directed by Alexandria Stapleton, narrated by Method Man, and based on the 2015 Stephen Witt book of the same name, the docuseries is said to chart “the fascinating, and often funny, inside story of the technology-driven disruption that changed music” around the turn of the century.

Meanwhile, the Reggie director Stapleton summed up her newest project as “a story that proves brilliant minds can be found in unlikely places, like the rural, forgotten factory town of Shelby, North Carolina.”

Helping tell that story are execs including Stoute and Jimmy Iovine; artists such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Timbaland, and Rhymefest; and former 106 & Park co-host Rocsi Diaz, all of whom creators say sat down for interviews.

How Music Got Free’s executive producers include Stapleton, Witt, Eminem, Paul Rosenberg, James, Maverick Carter (Carter and James co-founded production company SpringHill), and Stoute.

Also credited as producers are SpringHill’s Jamal Henderson and Philip Byron as well as Warner Bros. Unscripted Television/Telepictures’ Bridgette Theriault, Dan Sacks, and James Chapman. Rounding out the list are Interscope Films’ Steve Berman, John Janick, and Anthony Seyler and MTV Entertainment Studios’ Bruce Gillmer and Michael Maniaci.

Moving beyond the How Music Got Free credits, Paramount+ released a two-minute trailer as well, showcasing some of the docuseries’ additional interviews and exploring the commercial significance of CDs immediately prior to the digital era.

Of course, much has changed since that turning point, with licensed streaming having helped to largely eliminate the ensuing piracy. Industry revenue has grown for several years running but, when adjusted for inflation, remains well beneath its late-90s peak.

Notwithstanding the advent of streaming, physical sales are surging in markets including the U.S., where vinyl’s showing has improved for each of the last 17 years. Furthermore, fans haven’t entirely abandoned the CD, which, according to RIAA data, generated a cool $537.1 million (up 11.3% year over year) in the States at estimated retail value during 2023.

More pressingly, concerns surrounding generative AI – including its unauthorized soundalike creations, the protected materials on which many systems have been trained, and more – have now taken center stage in the industry. The majors and others are continuing to advocate for federal AI regulations, and infringement litigation is ongoing with AI giant Anthropic.