The life of a pianist: Has Spotify, Apple Music and Co. changed everything?

Los Angeles. An interview with pianist, composer and teacher Deniz Türkmen.

The CosmoPolite Times: Let’s start right away. Are streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Co. having a positive or negative impact on the music world?

Deniz Türkmen: Well, streaming services are of course perfect for musicians who don’t have contracts with famous record companies and sponsors. In the olden days, you had to sign an important deal to get a spot on those coveted CD shelves. Now you can remain independent and be heard in the world, streaming services are also good for musicians who have very little income from concerts or projects. Of course, headphones cannot replace a concert hall, a freshly tuned grand piano in a historic hall with fine acoustics is a completely different atmosphere.

The CosmoPolite Times: Are the concert halls emptier since streaming services grow more and more?

Deniz Türkmen: Yes, but not in the classical music branch. On the contrary, it is very often sold out, especially when you have lesser-known composers from the 19th century in the concert repertoire. People who listen to classical music are generally willing to spend more because they love the atmosphere of the concert hall. They are people for whom culture plays an important role in life. Any streaming services do not quench the thirst of these music lovers.

The CosmoPolite Times: What about CDs? Are they dying out?

Deniz Türkmen: Yes, but not in the classical music branch. I own a lot of CDs and old LPs myself, and every younger and older classical music lover I know too, some even have an extra room with huge shelves and sound systems. Like I said, the classic lover is willing to spend more and loves the art and culture.

The CosmoPolite Times: Are people who listen to rap, hip hop or pop, for example, more stingy?

Deniz Türkmen: Not stingy, but for these people, art and culture don’t play a major role in life. Now that sounds arrogant, but it’s the mass taste of shallow people who just follow the herd because everyone is doing it. Where most people go to a burger franchise, the cultured person wants a nice atmosphere and is therefore looking for a nice eatery in the area.

The CosmoPolite Times: This statement is by no means arrogant, it is much more the reality. Now to a question many are asking. What is the competition like on Spotify, for example? Do newcomers have a chance to assert themselves? How was that for you in the past?

Deniz Türkmen: Of course, the competition on Spotify isn’t really fair. There is a difference if you have a big and well-known record company behind you or if you are an independent musician. Nonetheless, pianists who have themselves won major piano competitions around the world and signed contracts with well-known record companies are even drowning in the crowds sometimes.

The CosmoPolite Times: What do famous record companies do differently?

Deniz Türkmen: Well, there are playlists from Spotify with many followers, these record companies have contracts with Spotify to put their artists in these playlists. But the fact that an artist has a contract with a famous record company doesn’t mean anything and can backfire. The listener decides what he wants to hear and what not.

The CosmoPolite Times: So pay for fame?

Deniz Türkmen: Yes, something like that, Spotify lives not only through advertising, but also through contracts with record companies.

The CosmoPolite Times: I saw that you are also in popular Spotify playlists like “Relaxing Piano Music”. How did you get in there?

Deniz Türkmen: Quality is everything, it has to be unique, then Spotify’s editorial staff will take notice. Of course, a lot of patience is also required. It was always important to me to remain an independent musician. And it also works without a well-known record company. I am the proof! And best of all, it leaves more of the cake for myself as these record companies take a big chunk of it.

The CosmoPolite Times: Creating something unique is the best move?

Deniz Türkmen: Absolutely! I have arranged Turkish and Azerbaijani art songs for the piano with a touch of Chopin’s style. Something like that is unique and very interesting for the listener. Things that have been recorded so many times are difficult to enforce. It doesn’t have to be your own composition either, there are so many lesser-known composers from the 19th century. If you do want to record stuff that has been recorded a million times before, such as Chopin’s Nocturnes, then by all means try not to imitate legends like Horowitz or Rubinstein, play it how you feel, I don’t know how many pianists trying to imitate them, it’s annoying. In short, it has to be unique and very interesting.

The CosmoPolite Times: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Deniz Türkmen: The untalented musician criticizes others. The talented musician criticizes himself. The greatest virtuosos like Beethoven, Chopin or Rachmaninoff had a lot of self-doubt. I have it too sometimes, it’s maddening, but that’s the key to creating a masterpiece.

The CosmoPolite Times: Thank you for the interview!


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