In the 19th century, the music industry was dominated by sheet music publishers. In the United States, the sheet music industry
rose in tandem with blackface minstrelsy. The group of New York City-based music publishers, songwriters and composers dominating
the industry was known as "Tin Pan Alley". In the mid-19th century, copyright control of melodies was not as strict, and publishers
would often print their own versions of the songs popular at the time. With stronger copyright protection laws late in the
century, songwriters, composers, lyricists, and publishers started working together for their mutual financial benefit. New
York City publishers concentrated on vocal music. The biggest music houses established themselves in New York City, but small
local publishers – often connected with commercial printers or music stores – continued to flourish throughout the country.
An extraordinary number of East European immigrants became the music publishers and songwriters on Tin Pan Alley-- the most
famous being Irving Berlin. Songwriters who became established producers of successful songs were hired to be on the staff
of the music houses.