Netflix has risen to be the benchmark for quality content, attracting top talent from across the globe. With this influx of new creative storytellers comes good soundtracks as well.
With storylines ranging from post-apocalyptic dramas to larger than life comedies surrounding the world of female wrestling, Netflix soundtracks have started to play a much larger marketing role to the shows it’s attached to.
No longer are we treated with a simple opening jingle about the demise of the S.S. Minnow to push the story along.
We now have a crop of talented music producers that are willing to discover and experiment with new sounds to keep your eyes and ears glued to the screen.
Music Supervisors Lynn Fainchtein and Ignacio Burgoa
The show's primary musical supervisor, Lynn Fainchetein picked the perfect collection of music to set the background for the Danish sci-fi apocalypse series, The Rain.
With a resume that includes The Revenant and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), she's not one to shy away from challenging themes or subject matters like the apocalypse.
What's fascinating were the awesome soundtracks she picked as backdrops to this dark tale; which initially seem appropriately out of place in telling the story, yet they seem to have no other place but in it.
I have heard people talk about the soundtrack to this series as being almost as integral as the plot and acting.
To get a sense of the music, check out the rain music Netflix trailer which features ‘Deliverance (Rain On Me)‘ by Erick Serena and The Killing Floor.
Music Supervisor: Craig Wedren
The short-lived Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling television spectacle from the 1980's have been perfectly recreated on Netflix in all of its 80's glory.
Craig Wedren, musical supervisor and composer, oversaw the selections and made sure you are blasted to a land of nostalgia.
Many will know his work from another Netflix show and cult classic, Wet Hot American Summer.
Unlike the tongue in cheek quirkiness of Wet Hot American Summer though, Wedren double downs on in your face music that is chosen to reflect what you are seeing on screen; almost to the point of parodying it.
If you are looking for 80's inspiration or scoring visuals that are over the top, have a listen to the great soundtracks from the 80's in Glow.
Music Supervisor Adrian Younge and Composer Ali Shaheed Muhammad
When the show's creator said that each episode is treated as its own album, you know that you are in for something special.
Adriane Younge is a 40-year-old musician and producer with credits that include Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, and Ghostface Killah. In case that wasn't enough, Adrain Younge also tapped Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad to help curate and mix the music used in this Marvel episodic.
The result is exactly what you think it would be....awesome Netflix soundtracks!
10 years ago, no one (including myself) would have thought that the sounds of Mobb Deep and The Wu Tang Clan would be the musical fuel powering any Marvel superhero show, but they are doing just that - and it works, really well.
Between the recognizable powerhouses from rap and hip hop are audio cues so precise, and so methodic, that you can hear that they know this music inside and out.
Music Supervisor Amelia Hartley (13 episodes)
The introduction by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is a sign that this piece set in London during the 1920s may be different.
Unlike other historical dramas airing on the BBC, Peaky Blinders trades in the stringed tv soundtracks one associate with English period pieces for edgy electric punk and modern rock as the backdrop for this gritty drama.
From The White Stripes to Johnny Cash and P.J Harvey, the juxtaposition of the music to what you are seeing on screen is so out of this time, it actually works.
After four seasons, the soundtrack continues to evolve with the story, recapturing the sadness bundled around outrage and outlaws.
And that for me is the secret to the music of this show; as you can feel the love they have for the music!
More importantly, you know they understand it more than anyone else out there.
Master of None - Season 2
Music Supervisor Zach Cowie
Zach Cowie created a soundtrack that lets audiences discover Italy through the ears of the main character, Dev, played by Aziz Ansari.
The “Netflix music” for Master of None Season 2, is laid out like you were sharing earbuds with him. Yes, you get the Italian disco and classics, surrounded by everything else under the Tuscan sun.
This cross-pollination of hip hop, rock, reggae, and American classics perfectly captures Dev's day to day interactions with Italian life. From John Legend to the Pino D'Angio, the soundtrack is fresh and simple, proving that every story in the world can have its own unique playlist.
The tv soundtracks Zach discovered for us were so new that he even struggled with finding out how to license it properly. Learn about how he ended up working with the Burundian government to license the memorable track “Umugabo Wukuri” by Canco Hamisi.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Music by Bear McCreary
Although this one on the list is actually an ABC show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has found a wonderful home on Netflix.
Like all Marvel properties, the level of quality needed to be high, expectations needed to be met, and every slip up would echo endlessly across the online forums.
Knowing this, they turned to a veteran in the industry - someone who they knew the fans would trust - Bear McCreary.
From large productions like Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead, to lesser-known fan favorites like "The Angriest Video Game Nerd". McCreary has a deep understanding of the expectation of the audience and delivers what is needed to meet them.
This is what makes Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D such a great example of his work. For over four seasons; he has composed original Netflix soundtracks that compliment the characters’ personalities, evolve with times of conflict, and create an emotional bridge between the audience and what they are seeing on screen.
Stranger Things - Season 2
Music by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein
Mostly recognized for their excellent job in the opening credits, the musical duo S U R V I V E has been responsible for the shows’ great soundtracks since the very first episode.
Musicians Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein used analog tones and an uneasy atmosphere that made Stranger Things such an effective homage to 80's horror.
On My Block
Music Supervisor Jamie Dooner
What do you get when you move The Wonder Years to South Central Los Angeles? You get Netflix's smartest coming of age teen show, On My Block.
Just like The Wonder Years brought you into the 1960s with the calls of John Lennon and The Birds, On My Block invests equally in the sounds consumed by a new generation.
Music supervisor Jamie Dooner does a fantastic job creating a musical lens that you know these kids are living their life through. His ability to use tracks by unknowns like "Insecure" by Brent Faiyaz as well as collaborations like Alina Baraz’s “Electric,” featuring Khalid help provide a layer of authenticity to the struggles and pleasures of the main characters.
As more filmmakers find new ways of telling stories through episodic Netflix soundtracks, it opens up more and more opportunities for music producers to flex their creative muscles.
We are confident that soundtracks from Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu will continue to break the mold and showcase more flexibility and freedom, which will push creatives to come up with more great soundtracks.
If you are looking for more examples of music for web series, check out the Best Music from Netflix Shows playlist on our Youtube channel and get inspired for your next project.
And if you love film scores, learn which ones are our favorites.