Late Turkish folk singer could have been 'as rich as Elvis' with royalties, report says
Legendary folk singer and poet Neşet Ertaş, who died of cancer at the age of 74 on Sept. 25, could have been as rich as Elvis Presley, the king of rock ‘n’ roll, had he received royalties for his work, according to a report by Aslan Batur of daily Hürriyet.
Ertaş released his first album in 1950 and added 30 more to his name throughout his distinguished career. Despite his immense popularity and legendary status, Ertaş lived and died in humble conditions.
Popular folk singer Arif Sağ spoke after Ertaş' passing, saying the Turkish state was indebted to the deceased singer as "it failed to protect the artist with proper copyright laws."
Music Producers Union (MÜYAP) chairman Bülent Forta underlined the need for stricter regulation on copyright laws. "All copyrights emerging from Ertaş's records, cassettes and CDs are reserved by our union. Yet I cannot say he received his fair share from the copyright pool. Had Ertaş been living in the United States, he would have been as wealthy as Elvis Presley, or Paul McCartney, because what Ertaş meant to local music in Turkey was the same as what those two figures meant to the music of their own countries,” he said.
"Elvis and McCartney are receiving $30 million from royalties each year. Ertaş was a victim of feeble copyright laws in Turkey," Forta said.
Ertaş's producer, Hasan Saltık, said the Turkish folk singer fell victim to bootlegging toward the end of the 1990s, when his cassettes were illegally duplicated in large numbers and shipped to Germany.
"We determined that certain people forged documents to produce cassettes of Ertaş's previous albums without his permission. The concept of copyrights was not present at the time, and he suffered great financial loss," Saltık said, adding that they went to court over the infringement but only demanded monetary compensation as Ertaş "did not want anyone to go to prison."
"He bought himself a shanty house with the money he won in court," Saltık said.