Sixties pop icon Sandie Shaw has urged banks and record companies to offer more support to emerging artists, insisting only acts from privileged backgrounds have the resources to become international stars.

Speaking at Britain's Culture, Media and Sport select committee, the Puppet on a String singer told politicians that the music industry is dominated by "Simon Cowell-type stuff" and deemed new artists "mere puppets", and suggested financiers and record label executives should help musicians from poorer backgrounds better understand the business aspects of the industry and support them.

She said, "Finance is the biggest barrier for emerging artists. At the moment, unless you're Mumford and Sons and come from a public school and have a rich family that can support you, you're on the dole (unemployment benefit) and you're trying to work and by the time you get a sniff of a record contract you just grab anything that they might offer you.

"So many artists are disadvantaged. They cannot start because of their background and the best music comes from those in challenging backgrounds... It comes from places and people that are really struggling to make some meaning out of their existence.

"All we're getting is a load of Simon Cowell-type stuff that is being paid for and owned by people and the artists are just mere puppets."