Apple Music releases first feature-film documentary

Apple has released a new documentary feature film exclusively on its streaming music platform. The movie is titled 808 and it traces the impact of Roland’s TR-808 drum machine on a range of musical genres and artists. The trailer is watermarked with the Beats 1 logo, making the project appear to be a branded production. It arrived on Apple Music on Friday, but the movie will also be available to rent on iTunes beginning Dec. 19.

The documentary is quite a star-studded affair. Zane Lowe of Beats 1 provides the narration, but musical talents ranging from Afrika Bambaataa to New Order to David Guetta stop by to talk about the impact of the machine.

This is a shift for Apple, which has been toying with other video production projects at a smaller scale over the past year. It bankrolled and produced some music videos and Taylor Swift’s concert video, but 808 puts the tech company on a different track. The documentary premiered at SXSW, offering the type of visibility a new film company might not dream of getting. It will be interesting to watch whether Apple sticks in this realm of supporting role music-centered content or whether it expects to bankroll totally original feature films in the style of Netflix.

Anna Washenko