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Country Profile: Türkiye

The world’s leading promoters & the 40 top markets they operate in.
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Türkiye may be a huge country, with a population of over 85m, but most of the international touring business centres around Istanbul, a city of nearly 16m inhabitants.

When it comes to promotion, the market is split in two: those who specialise in local and domestic talent and those who focus on international artists. Charmenko is a major player, having put on Arctic Monkeys, Måneskin, and Central Cee, and is responsible for the country’s edition of Spanish- born festival Sónar Istanbul; GNL Entertainment is similarly influential, particularly with rock and pop, but operates in the domestic sphere only.

Some promoters own their own venues, too. Zorlu PSM is due to welcome Federico Albanese and GoGo Penguin alongside a host of domestic stars to its Zorlu Centre, while Pozitif runs shows at the Volkswagen Arena and its own Babylon, as well as festivals such as One Love, the Red Bull Music Festival, and Babylon Soundgarden.

“Promoting in [Türkiye] is a crazy business nowadays”

Other significant promoters include Epifoni Events, who put on Tove Lo and Tom Odell this year; Neo Events, who did Deep Purple; Vera, who had Dream Theater and Gogol Bordello; and IKSV, who promoted the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds show at Istanbul’s Parkorman. Then there’s BKM, essentially a film and cinema company that also do promotions and who are bringing Lollapalooza to Istanbul for the first time in September 2023.

Putting on live music remains challenging, however. “Promoting in [Türkiye] is a crazy business nowadays,” says Alp Cagri Günal of GNL. Taxes are high – there’s a 28% tax on tickets and a 20% withholding tax on artist fees – but the currency devaluation several years ago made things particularly difficult. “That blew a hole in everybody’s budget who was working with anything international,” says Charmenko’s Nick Hobbs, “and made it very difficult to increase ticket prices to compensate.”

“There’s a great deal of long-term potential in [Türkiye] itself… But primarily, it’s been political and financial instability”

Hobbs says one solution is to focus on building networks throughout the Balkans, to make it easier for artists to plan a run through this part of the world. But Türkiye – and Istanbul – remains important. “There’s a great deal of long-term potential in [Türkiye] itself,” he says. “But primarily, it’s been political and financial instability – along with cultural shifts – that has prevented Istanbul from being a major port of call on the international touring map. Yet if BKM pull off Lollapalooza, it will mean that [Türkiye’s] back in terms of stadium-level artists – and they haven’t been playing Istanbul or anywhere in [Türkiye] since about 2014.”

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