Middle East Section
Oral Presentation Session
Private music industries in Istanbul initially created opportunities and opened alternative channels to expression and broader recognition for marginalized ethnic music-makers. However, they gradually erected new, unintentional barriers to their musical practices. If the music genre they produced did not have the potential to generate profits, then producers were less willing to support it. In this paper, I describe the challenges faced by musicians who migrated to Istanbul from various parts of the country and tried to find their way in the music industries of Istanbul. In this complex process, their artistic labor was exploited by networks of commercial music production and circulation.
The search for profit changes the aesthetic priorities of musicians and the outcomes of their work. While their initial intention is to make their ethnic languages heard to broader audiences through their songs and to speak about exclusion and cultural marginalization, they face various dilemmas and difficulties in doing so. Though they have managed to survive state and religious censorship and social stigma, musicians are now faced with the limiting logic of the market that promotes different forms of plurality and freedom, based on the expectation of profit. This expectation impacts their artistic creativity and shifts their aesthetic choices towards more popular forms of music-making. This shift produces repetition and musical homogenization.
In the case of explicit political activism through music, the industry initially brought marginal genres and languages to public attention, but has ended up normalizing and assimilating ethnic music in the pursuit of financial profit.