In this course, students will explore the history of the American music industry from 1790 to the present day. Students will study the role of instrument manufacturers, sheet music publishers, and record labels in transforming a basic human activity—music making—into a commodity. Students will also examine the race, class, and gender stereotypes that shaped the creation and marketing of popular music in different eras. Additionally, the course will examine the complex relationship between technological innovation and intellectual property law, studying the industry’s efforts to combat piracy and control how consumers use its products. By focusing on such key moments in the industry’s history as the birth of sound recording and the invention of the electric guitar, students will finish the course with a deeper understanding of the legal, technological, and social structures that inform the creation and consumption of popular music.