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Friday, May 05, 2006

Music Piracy Hurts Tarkan

By Richard Becks reporting from London, UK

Cover of Tarkan's Come Closer albumInternet piracy is always a problem when there is intense speculation around an album's release, and speculation surrounding 's debut English language album had been rife for over ten years.

Come Closer was eventually released in April this year, but it has had its fair share of problems with illegal copies being distributed even before the album had entered the music market.

Four demo studio recordings were stolen and leaked on to MP3 forums almost six months before the release of his album. After copies of the songs were illegally circulated on the Net, Tarkan was forced to release early a domestic single of two of the songs in October of last year, in an attempt to circumvent growing losses and stop fans buying poor quality demos.

Pirate Tarkan DVDsPiracy has always been a problem for Tarkan. In a 2001 Washington Post article, his then manager Michael Lang explained that piracy was the singer's biggest concern. However, this had been the first time that Tarkan's songs had been leaked before an album's release.

With unofficial "singles" appearing all across Turkey and Russia, the damage done was evident. Tarkan has so far suffered the lowest sales ever for his English language releases. Even his less-than-polished musical debut in 1992 reached sales that triple his latest excursions.

Some music commentators believe that Tarkan's disappointing album sales can be attributed in part to fans that illegally download his songs, but promoters hope that in time sales may rise.

The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Radiohead, Oasis and U2 are among the other stars who have fallen victim to internet leaks.

In a similar situation yesterday, US rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers have hit out at a music "pirate" who leaked their new album, Stadium Arcadium, onto the internet.

Bass player Michael "Flea" Balzary said the group would be heartbroken if fans downloaded it illegally before its official release.

In a letter on the band's website, Flea wrote: "For people to just steal a poor sound quality version of it for free because some asshole stole it and put it on the internet is sad to me.

"I cannot put in words how much this record means to us, how sacred the sound of it is to us, and how many sleepless nights and hardworking days we all had thinking about how to make it be the best sounding thing we could.

"Now for someone to take it and put it out there with this poor sound quality it is a painful pill for us to swallow."

Stricter Penalties for Piracy
In the US, people who copy music and films before their official release date face up to 11 years in prison under the 2005 Family Entertainment and Copyright Act.

In Turkey copyright laws are being tightened, and anti-piracy campaigns are being boosted with recent news that the Turkish Phonographic Industry Society (MÜ-YAP) has successfully obtained a court sentence against a piracy ring producing illegal copies of copyrighted music.

Tarkan has been campaigning for years to bring stricter penalties to help protect Turkey's music sector. His 2002 music video to the song Hüp (Ozinga Remix) has slogans in Turkish denouncing piracy.

Blame for falling CD sales in general cannot be placed on piracy alone, and the industry's late start in adequately prosecuting illegal uploaders arguably played a part. The music industry argues that file-sharers are still ignorant of the consequences stealing songs will eventually have on artists, and they don't want to prosecute potential customers either, but they warn that musicians will stop producing.

Ironically, fans who have been waiting so long for Tarkan's 2006 album could be helping silence Tarkan in English forever.

See also:

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