2 Introduction
by Odeon, a subsidiary of the British multinational recording com pany emi
and, in fact, the same com pany that distributed the Beatles albums in South
Amer i ca. In this sense, Parra’s was a typical case: corporations based in the
United States and Eu rope were responsible for the majority of music record-
ing and sales in Latin Amer i ca throughout the twentieth century; they forged
the commercial links that allowed pop u lar music to circulate. The globalized
music industry made it pos si ble for Argentines like Páez to hear both the Bea-
tles and Violeta Parra.
Nevertheless, multinational corporations were not solely responsible for
these musical connections. In fact, Parra was virtually unknown in Argentina
when she died in 1967. Although both Chilean and Argentine folk musicians
were recorded by the local branches of multinational corporations, cross-
pollination was minimal. It was only in 1971 when Argentine singer Mercedes
Sosa recorded an album of Parra’s songs for the Dutch multinational Philips
that the Chilean artist’s music reached a broad audience in Argentina and
throughout Latin Amer i ca. Although Sosa shared her com pany’s desire to sell
rec ords, her decision to rec ord these songs reflected her own po liti cal ide-
als: she appreciated Parra’s leftist commitments, and she wanted to express
her solidarity with Salvador Allende’s socialist government in Chile. In a self-
conscious efort to construct a revolutionary Latin Americanism, Sosa and
many of her Argentine fans embraced Parra and the other musicians of Chile’s
Nueva Canción (New Song) movement.2 Their meta phorical border cross-
ing created a new marketing opportunity for the multinationals and thereby
shifted the transnational flow of pop u lar music. Musicians like Parra and Sosa
pursued their own aesthetic and ideological goals as they traveled along cir-
cuits wired by global capitalism. Their journeys, alongside thousands of other,
structurally similar ones, produced the Latin American musical identity Páez
invoked. By navigating the ideological and economic structures of the trans-
national music industry, they transformed them.
This book will trace the itineraries of seven influential musicians from Ar-
gentina in the de cades after 1930. Argentine musicians were active participants
in the global culture industry, and their extensive interactions with musicians,
genres, and audiences in the United States, Eu rope, and Latin Amer i ca proved
consequential. Deeply enmeshed in a transnational field, their nationality
nonetheless mattered: it gave them access to specific cultural resources, it es-
tablished a par tic u lar relationship with local and regional audiences, and it
marked them when they performed abroad. Argentine musicians traveled on
terrain molded by the unequal distribution of economic and po liti cal power.
They confronted genre distinctions, marketing conventions, and even ethnic
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