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There is no type of music that does not hold well in Turkey. It is just that some genres take a long time to become a stronghold. Rock is a very good example of this (as is rap). The milestone in the recent rock explosion is the band Mor ve Ötesi’s 2004 album called Dünya Yalan Söylüyor (The World is Lying). It sold more than 300,000 copies which is a very high number no matter which genre one looks at. However, this was Mor ve Ötesi’s sixth album. This demonstrates the fact that there is movement in all genres, especially in rock, but it may take some time for emerging bands and artists to come into view.

A few years ago there was actually a great hype in rock music. This is backed up from the evidence that the number of legal downloads of rock artist Emre Aydın is on about the same level as pop artist Demet Akalım. It is also noteworthy that two Turkish rock acts, Mor ve Ötesi and Manga, have been the representatives of Turkey for the Eurovision song contest. However, rock still needs to go a long way since there are only a few major names in the sector. The rest are still the same names as they have been in the last ten years, including Duman, Şebnem Ferah, and Teoman

            Although by definition rock needs to have an opposing stance, there is a lack of political stance in most of the bands. This is a result from the fact that nobody wants to alienate from potential sponsor support. For this reason lyrics have become more sterilized and there are just too many rock love songs.

RTÜK is a huge actor in music and video production. This is the governmental body that determines if anything on TV or radios is hazardous for the public. It is the censoring mechanism which can also give fines. Rock musicians, just like any other type of musicians in Turkey, have RTÜK in mind as they write lyrics and film videos. An interesting auto-censor mechanism has risen as people just limit themselves with the fear of receiving fines and being banned etc.

Venues in Istanbul where rock concerts of emerging bands are held are Balans and Bronx. Especially in Istanbul and Ankara is rock music popular.

In the Netherlands Turkish rock musicians also penetrate the Dutch market, since rock music is popular with Dutch-Turks. There are seven music groups of Dutch-Turks in the Netherlands. Cities of Turkey that have universities are the ones where a rock culture has developed. These include, among others, Izmir, Eskişehir, Çanakkale, Gaziantep and Bartın. A widely popular phenomenon is to combine different genres such as hip hop, reggae, or arabesque with rock.


Mehmet Tez is an experienced music critic who was the editor-in-chief of Turkish branch of Rolling Stone magazine before it shut down. He is very knowledgeable on the Turkish rock scene.