“Insourcing” is a term that describes the phenomenon of companies taking over the function of necessary tasks formerly completed by outside vendors. We employ the same term when we bring jobs into our home country that used to exist outside our borders. Insourcing is one way to effect a change in the balance of trade and increase both GDP and GNP. Anything that doesn’t need to be imported keeps the money and jobs at home. This has always been the most important logic behind consumer nationalism.
If there is any business ripe for insourcing in the emerging growth countries, it is the entertainment media business. In movies, Hollywood has, spreading values and images that don’t always resonate cross-culturally. The Turkish movie industry has been growing steadily over the last years, profitable films being released with regularity. The budgets are rising as well, although they are no match for Hollywood’s.
The video game and television industries have also been growing rapidly in Turkey. The music business climate is relatively healthy with a lively studio scene and many notable world-class producers and performers living within Turkey’s borders. Recently in Boston I met a Dutch scholar named Luc Reuvers who completed his Masters degree thesis on the Turkish pop music industry at Leiden University’s Turkish Studies program.
The Turkish version of American Idol (called “Pop Star”) is a success in Turkey, as are otherfranchises such as “Survivor” and “The Voice”. For years, it has been common to see overdubbed or subtitled American television shows and movies. Turkish people were eager to watch “Friends”, “Dallas” and Desperate Housewives”, and these shows have made a lot of money for their creators from licensing fees.
The Turkish audience has seemed content to watch American stars in US cities, sitting in restaurants eating American food and making jokes about their predicaments in that country. This has begun to change. Now we are seeing TV shows and movies with Turkish stars drinking Turkish coffee in Turkish environments joking about their lives in Turkey. This is good for Turkey on a number of levels, but certainly economically. Not everything should be imported or localized. When audiences and advertisers support home-grown programming the money stays in the country instead of flowing across the border.
A Turkish game show that does not franchise its format from a foreign concern avoids payinglicensing fees. There is less risk involved with a franchise, such as “American Idol”, which has been proven to be a successful format, but there is less upside as well. The revenues from advertising must ultimately be paid out to the franchise. A new format invented specifically for the home audience may have a bigger chance of failure, but when it succeeds the revenues stay at home and can be used to develop more potentially successful shows. These shows can then be exported. This is what is happening in Turkey, where there is a growing appetite for shows produced at home. These shows also may appeal to audiences in the “Turkish Republics” such as Azerbaijan, where some cultural cues translate easily.
A similar phenomenon is taking place in Asia. For example, China used to import much of its pop music from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but more and more homegrown acts are taking the stage and the audiences by storm there. Korea has always had K-Pop, but since “Gangnam Style” from South Korean artist Psy has topped all You-Tube viewer records there is barely a person on the planet who hasn’t seen his horsy dance and been able to associate with the culture of Seoul. This is good for the Korean economy and global presence; there can be little question. At very least, it gives awareness of their unique culture a boost all around the world, and their entertainers will be taken more seriously (and promoted) in their own industry.
It is only a matter of time before other entertainment content created in emerging markets like Turkey and Korea will break out to worldwide acclaim. Some things that can help the process along are budgets and a dose of expertise, especially in the technical aspects of media production and marketing. As the economies mature and grow, this will happen organically.
The Turkish cinema industry has improved greatly over the last 10 years. The scene used to be dominated by Hollywood productions, however for the last decade there are domestic movies are bringing strong competition. Box office records have been broken by domestic productions during the last five years.
The same is true for the television series. KurtlarVadisi turned into a cult production that began about 8 years ago and is still ongoing. PolatAlemdar, the main character has without doubt already become a local hero. Large numbers of people are employed by the TV industry trying to cut the latest episodes in time. Probably more than 30 current TV series are running through national TV channels in the country.
SerhanNasırlı, producer and founder at Minus Green Productions, states that he is getting regular phone calls from Middle East and Africa asking if there are any TV series available for sale or licensing. This illustrates the potential for increased import revenues from syndication.
I believe we will see the Turkish media and entertainment sector continue to grow over the next decade at least. This will create opportunities for many young people and entrepreneurs looking to break into these industries, in addition to helping to strengthen GDP and GNP. Of course these future workers and managers will need to be prepared with the proper skills and capabilities. For this, there will need to be a concomitant growth in educational programs to help them prepare for future careers. These programs will need to focus on developing the specialized skills demanded by the industry.
Hopefully we will see these newer programs supported by government and industry, as both entities will share a common interest in the growth and increased insourcing of production and marketing in the media and entertainment industries.
Tom Stein is a professor and music producer at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He is active as an educational consultant and works in the artist development field. Professor Stein is the USA Country Manager for the International Institute of Marketing Professionals (IIMP®).
Bora Uslusoy is a musician, lecturer, writer and music producer in İstanbul. Author of five best selling guitar instruction books in Turkish, he currently teaches Sound Design for Moving Picture Production at the Plato College of Higher Education.