Until the mid-1800s
the opportunity for the average person to hear music was limited,
since relatively few Americans had the means to acquire and learn
to play a musical instrument. But, by the late 1800s, the ready
availability of inexpensive mass-produced musical instruments, sheet
music of the latest popular songs, and automatic music devices made
music a part of everyday life for many Americans.
During the 20th century, increasing numbers of Americans
became consumers, rather than producers, of music. By 1900, Americans
had begun to buy phonographs and purchase recordings of their favorite
singers and musicians. By the1930s, the radio brought music over
the airwaves and into millions of American homes.
With the radio, CD players, and the Internet, music is now everywhere.
For many, the kind of music that one listens to has become an
important part of personal and group identity.