Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Conference papers

Miami, plaque tournante de la musique latino-américaine. Entre diversité et uniformisation des produits culturels transnationaux

Abstract : Miami, a latin american music Hub. Between diversity and standardization of transnational cultural products Referring to the topic of Latino-American music under the perspective of singularity in the title is not without meaning. What at first seems to evict the diversity and heterogeneity of South American practices enables on the contrary to enhance the very specific role played by Miami in the market of " Latino " music. By becoming the centre of exchanges between the two Americas, the city has gradually imposed itself as the entertainment capital for Latin America. The majors of the record industry have managed to create a hybrid cultural project with their " Latino " subsidiaries by using influences of the " periphery " referred to as the " Miami Sound " by specialists and professionals. By integrating music elements from various Latin American, North American and European influences in a single mass media content, music labels, supported by powerful broadcasting means such as MTV Latino or Univisión, the first Hispanic channel in the US, have turned Miami into the cultural window of a hybrid Latin American identity which is able to transcend different regional particularities of the continent. We first need to understand how and why Miami became this " cultural capital of Latin America " (Yudice, 2003). As a " hub " between the two Americas (Girault, 1998), it is thanks to the influx of big fashion, entertainment, communication and media companies that it got this central position, promoted by an important presence of capitals and banks from around the world, attracted by favourable tax policies at the end of the Seventies. This economic success, mostly the result of the first wave of migration after the Cuban Revolution of 1958-59, which brought people with a good knowledge of the business world and a great ability to develop commercial relationships with the South American continent, largely contributed to the booming of the city on an international level and also helped attract capital, investors and population. Executives and professionals of the entertainment industry find in Miami a welcoming place for the development of their activity, supported by the manpower of poor populations from Cuba and other Latin American countries brought there by the successive immigration waves of the 1970's and 1980's. These phenomena give a solid basis to a very promising " Latino " market for the music industry, which ended up installing its Latin American subsidiaries at the beginning of the 1990's.We will then show what exactly this Miami Sound is and what were the strategies of record labels to promote it and transform it into what is today one of the most profitable markets of the sector. To illustrate this, we will look at the career of the Cuban-American singer and producer Emilio Estefan, since he is one of the pioneers of this " U.S. Latin American " music fusion that is so typical of Miami. He also became one of the most active producers of the city, stepping aside as a singer, following the success of his wife Gloria Estefan and their " Miami Sound Machine " band. This enabled his development and appearance on the international music scene. Miami then turned into the very place where "Latino music" is recorded, produced, promoted and broadcast. However, this was only made possible thanks to the establishment of record labels that rapidly organised the infant industry. Sony was one of the companies that perceived this Latin American potential at a very early stage and kept developing the market, particularly thanks to the talent of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Thus, we will show in what way the association of Emilio Estefan with Discos CBS International, a Miami-based division of CBS Inc. in 1980 was a key moment in the expansion of the singer, the label, and Floridian Latin pop. A transnational strategy with many levels then developed to become recurrent and systematic within the major for the next 20 years, as we will explain with the example of the Cuban couple.To analyse these phenomena, we will base our study on Emilio Estefan's recently-published autobiography, as well as on some of the key songs of this " Miami Sound ". We will also use articles of the specialised press (from Billboard magazine, in particular with articles by Leila Cobo, a Latin American music specialist) and general-interest press from Miami (El Nuevo Herald, Miami Today). Annual reports of the IFPI and Sony Corporation will also be used in our research. In addition, a dozen interviews with producers, musicians and professionals of the industry, conducted between September and December 2010 in Miami, will enable to back up our argumentation.With all these elements, we will conduct a crosswise analysis of the socio-economical processes that helped turn Miami into a privileged place of transnational Latino pop production, as well as the socio-cultural processes that enabled the development of a hybrid culture specific of Miami and essential to understand the position that this city has today on the market of Latin(o) popular music. To conclude, we could ask ourselves whether what is made in Miami, in a strong context of industrialisation, tends to standardize Latin American expression forms, or if on the contrary the multiplicity of creative forms from Latin America does not enrich the diversity of the music offering produced by the oligopoly of the four big transnational firms implanted in Miami, in particular Sony music latin. It seems interesting to build a bridge between a socio-economical approach of the subject, in order to be aware of the economical and industrial environment in which the object of study developed (Bouquillion, 2011; Burnett 1996), and a more socio-anthropologic vision, under the influence of the works of George Yúdice, who studied the Latino-American music industry and the important position played in it by the city of Miami. Finally, in the same vein, the publications of Nestor García Canclini will shed light on these hybrid cultural phenomena at stake between Latin America and the United States.
Mots-clés : musique norme culture
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [10 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : Compte Laboratoire Geriico <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 27, 2015 - 4:10:16 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 10:34:02 AM
Document(s) archivé(s) le : Monday, April 17, 2017 - 11:05:15 PM


Explicit agreement for this submission


  • HAL Id : hal-00835848, version 4


Alix Benistant. Miami, plaque tournante de la musique latino-américaine. Entre diversité et uniformisation des produits culturels transnationaux. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, Roubaix, France. pp.315. ⟨hal-00835848v4⟩



Record views


Files downloads