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Country Profile: Türkiye

The world’s leading promoters & the 55 top markets they operate in.
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Türkiye’s music scene, in 2023, has been struck by the perfect storm. After the Covid lockdown, the economic crisis has hit the country particularly hard, with up to 100% unofficial inflation decimating ticket-buyers’ spending capacity, leaving major acts cancelling shows due to disappointing sales.

A 50% drop in the value of the Turkish Lira made it virtually impossible for promoters to afford major international acts and turn a profit; even the country’s most corporate-sponsored summer festivals this year consisted of mid-level lineups. Plus, the re-election of Erdoğan’s right-wing government has ensured four more years of political disinterest in pop culture and seen dozens of gigs and festivals cancelled for supporting LGBTQ+ rights.

Hence, promoters here are hunkering down for the long haul. “Turkey is going through economic crises almost every decade, and in the past, we always recovered,” says Sinan Yagci of Istanbul’s Analog Productions. “But pandemics and the economic crisis in Turkey made it almost impossible to work on big events recently, and to be realistic, it will take at least two years to recover financially. And we also need a culture- supporting administration, which is not likely to happen [in the next four years]. But you never know, getting back on track with negotiations with EU participance can suddenly change the direction of the wind [and] the audience is still solid and demanding every cultural activity they can afford.”

“Not so many shows, if any, have sold out, and I think all promoters are feeling a little bit more cautious.”

Despite the conditions and cancellations (Sigur Rós, Imagine Dragons, and Prodigy all pulled shows recently), there have been successes. Yagci recently promoted a big Nilüfer Yanya tour, while Nick Hobbs, owner of Charmenko, sold out shows by Arctic Monkeys, Placebo, and Halsey in the past year and has seen his Sónar Istanbul indoor spring festival build well. But even he struggles to see any similar successes in 2023 though.

“I’m not aware of any really big successes this year, not like last year,” he says. “Not so many shows, if any, have sold out, and I think all promoters are feeling a little bit more cautious. You have to put the ticket prices up more or less in line with the exchange rate, and that creates a problem. The economy is in generally bad shape, and that affects ticket income, it affects sponsorship income, it affects general stability because it’s really hard to work when you have that level of inflation.”

With robust, if slow moving, grassroots DJ and Turkish hip-hop scenes, (although several successful acts have been banned or arrested by the government for their lyrical
content), talk of a potential Lollapalooza Turkey making up for the territory’s lack of major international festivals in 2024 and artist engagement during promotion periods showing returns, there are causes for cautious, long-term optimism in Türkiye
– industry operations such as Zorlu PSM, Türkiye’s largest concert hall, expect business to get back to normal around 2025. “That’s really not so great news,” says Hobbs, “it’s been a while since we’ve had ‘normal’.”

Piu Entertainment was founded in 2012 and has promoted concerts and shows with acts including Andre Rieu, Placido Domingo, Sarah Brightman, and Diana Krall.

“We have a great demand for music in and out of Istanbul. It’s the right time to do small tours here. Smaller cities are eager to host international acts, and the market is wide open to grow.”

“We are struggling with currency exchange rates, and we need to convince artists to accept slightly lower fees for the time being,” says managing partner Cemil Demirok. “On the other hand, demand for live music and theatrical shows is growing and new state-of-the-art venues are opening in Istanbul and other cities. Türkiye is very well connected, with many flights, by road and by rail, and it makes it ideal for touring.”

With the exchange rate problems, it’s no surprise Demirok recommends that emerging artists looking to break in Türkiye should look to create more dates on their tours by lowering their expectations on fees. “We have a great demand for music in and out of Istanbul. It’s the right time to do small tours here. Smaller cities are eager to host international acts, and the market is wide open to grow.”

He adds that the number of local and international indie rock concerts is increasing and that many new jazz and rock festivals started in Türkiye in 2023. “Having well-equipped new theatres has made spectacular productions possible. We have several shows produced with Broadway/West End standards, and musicals are one of the best-selling genres right now.”

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