Music is a fundamental part of our evolution. It must have contributed much more to human evolution than what has been recognized. Music is a core human experience and generative processes reflect cognitive capabilities. Music can evolve by the process of natural selection, the same way species evolve in the natural world. Natural selection refers to Darwin’s idea that within a population there is always variation. Some variants are undesirable and go extinct, while others do exceptionally well and thrive.

Music is associated with social contact. In fact, its origins are in contact with others. Mothers making contact, calls to others, and rhythmic patterns with others in the social group are all ways of keeping track of others, staying in touch with others, or playing with others. Music is often functional because it is something that can promote human well-being by facilitating human contact, human meaning, and human imagination of possibilities, tying it to our social instincts. Music, as it has evolved in humankind, allows for unique expressions of social ties and the strengthening of relational connectedness. Music is strongly linked to motivation and to human social contact. Only a portion of people may play music, but all can, and do, at least sing or hum a tune.

The music industry has changed quite a bit over the last couple of decades, all thanks to new technology. Technology helped shape what the music industry is today, but remember when vinyl and 8tracks were used? Vinyl quickly went to tape which slowly transferred into compact discs. Napster was founded in 1999 by Sean Parker, John Fanning, and Shawn Fanning. Napster folded under the litigation and the company was purchased in a fire sale with the name finally landing with the streaming service, Rhapsody.

How we listen to music is not the only thing that changed. How we read and play music has as well. Gone are the days of a conductor purchasing volumes of sheet music for a single song. Everything has gone digital. Youtube plays a big part in the music industry. Gone are the days when parents still need to pay for music instructors to teach a child to study notes. Nowadays, with a simple click of a button, videos in youtube can teach people about these things without even spending money. Learning not only takes place in the development of direct musical skills, but in the connections between music and emotional experiences. Darwin understood both music and consideration of emotion to be human core capabilities. Emotional systems are forms of adaptation allowing us to, for instance, note danger through the immediate detection of facial expressions. Leading the way to digitize sheet music is MusicNotes. The company hit a major milestone back in 2006 when it entered into an agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing to reduce its entire catalog to sheet music. MusicNotes essentially took our favorite songs and digitized them to downloadable sheet music.

The industry is also learning to use new recording technology to produce music. The old style of recording a record involved expensive and hard to understand audio equipment that needed an expert. Now, computer software can digitally mix music without people being in the studio. No longer is there a need to spend an extravagant amount of money for studio recording time.