The success story of Gulce Turek, Senior Marketing Manager at Fantasy Records/Concord Music.

Born and raised in Istanbul in Turkey, Gulce Turek was introduced to music at the age of 5 when her parents signed her up for piano lessons. She played the piano for a few years and then played the drums for almost 7 years. 

Istanbul, being a city of almost 20 millions inhabitants, and spreading out between Asia and Europe, has a long history with these different civilizations, and a wide European culture where people consume western music, go to shows and enjoy the live scene. A city like this also attracts people from all over the world, and from all over the country, so it represents hundreds of different cultures at once. It’s no surprise that Gulce Turek was exposed to traditional, neo-traditional, and western music from a very young age.

“I never have a hard time sitting down with a colleague to talk about American music, past and present, so I guess I feel lucky to be exposed to both – the mainstream/widespread music and the local, Mediterranean and Turkish music.” she says.

The passion Gulce Turek felt for music never diminished, and it became an integral part of her studies and her successful professional career.

Ever since I had my first cassette player (followed by a CD player) as a kid, I always felt better when I had my headphones on. I used to play the same album over and over again until I learned all the lyrics, and memorized all the notes, and I was just blown away by the shared emotions between the player and the listener. I played the piano for a few years, but it never clicked and then I played drums for 7 years, but still didn’t feel like it was the best fit for my skill set. After the first few jobs I had in the music industry, I just knew I felt more comfortable being behind the curtain instead of on stage.

Both her parents were music lovers, she adds : “They had a console with a record & CD player with a surround sound system. It was one of the nicest things in our house and they both would play a ton of records. My mom was working at Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality as a legal advisor, so she would get all these free concert tickets to one of the coolest outdoor venues in Istanbul. Especially in the summers, we would go to a bunch of shows together and I just loved that environment from early on in my life.”

Following high school, she attended one of Turkey's best conservatories and fine arts universities, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, to study Ethnomusicology. Her graduation thesis was about the music industry and music management (“The Case of Music Management In Turkey”). Gulce was asked if Ethnomusicology is useful to her current work and relevant in the music industry, and she replied: “I studied music’s social aspects and its cultural impact on people, along with a heavy technical education. It absolutely gave me a new perspective on the music audience and also, studying the “science of music” has absolutely given me a head start on my work with A&R. I think anything within the lines of music studies, communication, entertainment studies, or even marketing would be useful in this job.”

She has been working in the music industry since 2012, starting with the live music scene working at festivals and venues during college, then moved over to record labels doing marketing upon her graduation.

Gulce’s first ever gig in the industry was at a Reggae Festival in Istanbul : “It all happened very fast ! I had agreed to help the people who were running the “venue” which was actually just a beach, and that went well. Dawn Penn was the headliner and it was one of the most thrilling things I had done in my life so I’ve decided I wanted more of that. The next time they needed some help with another event, which happened to be Michael Jackson’s The Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil, they reached out to me. There, I met the local promoter who was the biggest live music company in Turkey, and they offered me a gig at one of the coolest venues in Istanbul. ”

A few years after graduating and gaining valuable experience as Artist Assistant and Events Coordinator, Gulce Turek decided to take her career to the next level. She moved to Los Angeles to get a certificate in Music Business at UCLA, where she graduated with Honors, and to pursue a career in the highest spheres of the music industry.

“ I wanted to work in this business my whole life, I can’t really remember a time where I wanted to do something else.”

Gulce Turek first got involved in Fantasy Records, which is a division of Concord Music, as an intern. “I was highly motivated because I truly wanted to make the most of my time there. I gave my full attention to every single project I had. My parents told me that the most important thing in professional life is to have a strong work ethic, so I try to honor that. My ultimate goal is to help build long and successful careers for artists I believe in. To do that I need to look back and see the progress I’ve made and take that pride and strength to motivate myself to be better, and to work harder every day.”
Her hard work and talent didn’t go unnoticed, and she ended up getting hired as Label Coordinator during 2 years “As the label coordinator I  worked closely with the President of the label and Project Managers to create synergy between our label and other departments like Digital Marketing and Radio.”

The most enjoyable part of her marketing job, according to her, is finding entry points for new fans. Finding ways for people to relate to the music in their own way and amplifying the creativity of the musician.
In 2019, Gulce Turek was promoted as the marketing manager at Fantasy Records : “I work with project managers on building and executing marketing plans around artist development and Music/Video releases. My main responsibilities include video marketing, digital marketing, traditional/product focused marketing and I work very closely with the advertising team and support the following departments from a marketing standpoint: Radio Promotion, Sales, Streaming (Digital Streaming Platform relations), International Marketing/Sales, Licensing, and Publicity. I also collaborate with various content teams (Art, Video, Digital etc) in creating marketing tools for our projects.”

Gulce Turek‘s contribution and expertise in the industry has been significant, and fulfilled with success. As an example, she recalls meeting Neil Young while he was recording with one of Fantasy's artists : “Later on, I was chatting with some of the band members at a show and they told me that after I left the studio, Neil Young had said all these nice things about me. I think that was one of those big moments where I thought I must be doing something right !”
Throughout her career, Gulce has worked to use music to impact the world in a creative, authentic and independently minded way. “I hope fans share this sentiment, too.” she adds.

In 2021, Gulce Turek was elevated to her current role as Senior Marketing Manager where she is actively working as a project manager and is assigned a variety of projects.

Gulce Turek just wrapped up her releases for 2022 and she is currently working on 2023 releases which none of them have been announced yet, so stay tuned! “At Fantasy we're gearing up to release the debut album from Rock supergroup L.S. Dunes (featuring members of My Chemical Romance, Coheed And Cambria, Thursday and more). That's been a fun one to watch.” confides Gulce, during our conversation at the top of November. The album is now out in the world!

Gulce recently worked on a double live album release of the band, Kodaline. Here’s how she worked on the campaign :

“They're an Irish band with over a billion streams, and the live album consisted of some of their most successful songs but in a non-produced, intimate live setting.
We have used many social media tools as well as mailers to engage fans and tell the band's story of reimagining these songs. Previously the band has felt the pressure to deliver highly produced songs that fit in a certain box, and our album has marked the first ever record where they have felt the creative freedom. We have filmed a series of content to promote the album. 

The band is currently on a three month long European tour in support of the release. It's definitely a fan piece and so far fans have been really enjoying the acoustic versions of the band's most beloved songs.”

Finally, I asked Gulce what marketing advice she could give independent artists self-releasing their music:

“Be your biggest champion, don't shy away from promoting your own art. Sometimes we see marketing as selling out or tooting your own horn when in reality it's a way to connect with the right people who'll enjoy the music and relate to it. Also, find or create a circle of similar minded musicians and find your scene.”
To connect with Gulce : LinkedIn | Twitter

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