The history of music in Istanbul can be traced back many centuries ago. Slightly influenced with the
European style, their first musical was the Orientalism. It was so distinct that European classical
composers in the 18th century were fascinated by their music, particularly the strong role given to the
brass and percussion instruments in Janissary bands.
By 1976, classical music had undergone a renaissance. And a state musical conservatory in Istanbul
was founded to give classical musicians the same support as folk musicians. Modern day advocates of
Western classical music include Fazıl Say, İdil Biret, Suna Kan and the Pekinel sisters.
The music industry includes a number of fields, ranging from record companies to radio stations and
community and state orchestras. Most of the major record companies are based in Istanbul’s region of Unkapanı and they are represented by the Turkish Phonographic Industry Society (MÜ-YAP). The
major record companies produce material by artists that have signed to one of their record labels, a
brand name often associated with a particular genre or record producer. Record companies may also
promote and market their artists, through advertising, public performances and concerts, and television
In recent years, the music industry has been embroiled in turmoil over the rise of the Internet
downloading of copyrighted music and general piracy; many musicians and MÜ-YAP have sought to
punish fans who illegally download copyrighted music. To address the problem, MÜ-YAP and The
Orchard, the world’s leading distributor and marketer of independent music, had reached an agreement
on digital global distribution, representing approximately 80% of the Turkish music market.
There is not a substantial singles market in Turkey. It is album orientated, although popular singers
such as Yonca Evcimik and Tarkan have released singles with success. Most music charts not related
to album sales, measure popularity by music video feedback and radio airplay. Turkish radio stations
often broadcast popular music. Each music station has a format, or a category of songs to be played;
these are generally similar to but not the same as ordinary generic classification. With the introduction
of commercial radio and television in the early 1990s ending the monopoly of the Turkish Radio and
Television Corporation (TRT), a multitude of radio and TV stations were opened by newspaper media
Though major record companies dominate the Turkish industry, an independent music industry (indie
music) does exist. Indie music is mostly based around local record labels with limited, if any, retail
distribution outside a small region. Artists sometimes record for an indie label and gain enough acclaim
to be signed to a major label; others choose to remain at an indie label for their entire careers. Indie
music may be in styles generally similar to mainstream music, but is often inaccessible, unusual or
otherwise unappealing to many people. Indie musicians often release some or all of their songs over the
Internet for fans and others to download and listen to.