Pitchfork (website)

Last updated
Pitchfork
Pitchfork logo.svg
Screenshot
Pitchfork.com screenshot.png
Screenshot of Pitchfork's homepage
Type of site
Online music magazine
Available in English
Owner Condé Nast
Created byRyan Schreiber
EditorPuja Patel
Website pitchfork.com
Alexa rankIncrease2.svg 2,467 (June 2019) [1]
CommercialYes
RegistrationNo
Launched1995;24 years ago (1995) (as Turntable)
Current statusActive

Pitchfork is an American online magazine launched in 1995 by Ryan Schreiber, based in Chicago, Illinois, and owned by Condé Nast. Being developed during Schreiber's tenure in a record store at the time, the magazine developed a reputation for its extensive focus on independent music, but has since expanded to a variety of coverage on both indie and popular music. [2]

An online magazine is a magazine published on the Internet, through bulletin board systems and other forms of public computer networks. One of the first magazines to convert from a print magazine format to being online only was the computer magazine Datamation. Some online magazines distributed through the World Wide Web call themselves webzines. An ezine is a more specialized term appropriately used for small magazines and newsletters distributed by any electronic method, for example, by electronic mail. Some social groups may use the terms cyberzine and hyperzine when referring to electronically distributed resources. Similarly, some online magazines may refer to themselves as "electronic magazines" or "e-magazines" to reflect their readership demographics or to capture alternative terms and spellings in online searches.

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and portions of the city extend westward into neighboring DuPage County. It is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third-largest in the United States.

Illinois U.S. state in the United States

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

Contents

The site generally concentrates on new music, but Pitchfork journalists have also reviewed reissues and box sets. Since 2016, it publishes retrospective reviews of classic or otherwise important albums every Sunday. The site has also published "best-of" lists – such as the best albums of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and the best songs of the 1960s – as well as annual features detailing the best albums and tracks of each year since 1999 (and a retrospective Best Albums of 1998 list in 2018).

In the music industry, a reissue is the release of an album or single which has been released at least once before, sometimes with alterations or additions.

A box set or boxed set is a set of items traditionally packaged in a box and is offered for sale as a single unit.

By the end of 2019, Pitchfork will be put behind a paywall. [3]

Paywall system that prevents Internet users from accessing webpage content without a paid subscription

A paywall is a method of restricting access to content via a paid subscription. Beginning in the mid-2010s, newspapers started implementing paywalls on their websites as a way to increase revenue after years of decline in paid print readership and advertising revenue, partly due to the use of ad blockers. In academics, research papers are often subject to a paywall and are available via academic libraries that subscribe.

History

Pitchfork Media Logo.svg
Previous Pitchfork logo

In late 1995, Ryan Schreiber, a recent high school graduate, created the magazine in Minneapolis. Influenced by local fanzines and KUOM, Schreiber, who had no previous writing experience, aimed to provide the Internet with a regularly updated resource for independent music. Initially called Turntable, the site was updated monthly with interviews and reviews. In May 1996, the site began publishing daily and was renamed Pitchfork, alluding to Tony Montana's tattoo in Scarface . [4]

Minneapolis Largest city in Minnesota

Minneapolis is the county seat of Hennepin County and the larger of the Twin Cities, the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States. As of 2018, Minneapolis is the largest city in the state of Minnesota and 46th-largest in the United States, with an estimated population of 425,403. The Twin Cities metropolitan area consists of Minneapolis, its neighbor Saint Paul, and suburbs which altogether contain about 3.63 million people, and is the third-largest economic center in the Midwest.

Fanzine Magazine published by fans

A fanzine is a non-professional and non-official publication produced by enthusiasts of a particular cultural phenomenon for the pleasure of others who share their interest. The term was coined in an October 1940 science fiction fanzine by Russ Chauvenet and first popularized within science fiction fandom, and from there it was adopted by other communities.

KUOM college radio station of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities

KUOM is a student-run non-commercial educational radio station, licensed to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in Minneapolis. The station's programming, branded as Radio K, was recognized as the "best radio station of the Twin Cities" in 2010, 2013, and 2015 by City Pages editors.

In early 1999, Schreiber relocated Pitchfork to Chicago, Illinois. By then, the site had expanded to four full-length album reviews daily, as well as sporadic interviews, features, and columns. It had also begun garnering a following for its extensive coverage of underground music and its writing style, which was often unhindered by the conventions of journalism. In October, the site added a daily music news section.[ citation needed ]

Underground music musical genres beyond mainstream culture

Underground music comprises musical genres beyond mainstream culture. Any song that is not being legally commercialized is considered underground.

Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on recent events. The word journalism applies to the occupation, as well as citizen journalists using methods of gathering information and using literary techniques. Journalistic media include print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the past, newsreels.

Pitchfork has launched a variety of subsidiary websites. Pitchfork.tv, a website displaying videos related to many independent music acts, launched in April 2008. It features bands that are typically found on Pitchfork .[ citation needed ] In July 2010, Pitchfork announced Altered Zones, a blog aggregator devoted to underground and do it yourself music. [5] On 21 May 2011, Pitchfork announced a partnership with Kill Screen, in which Pitchfork would publish some of their articles. [6] Altered Zones was closed on November 30. [7] On December 26, 2012, Pitchfork launched Nothing Major, a website that covered visual arts such as fine art and photography. [8] Nothing Major closed in October 2013. [9] On October 13, 2015, Condé Nast announced that it had acquired Pitchfork. [10] Following the sale, Schreiber remained as editor-in-chief. [11]

Do it yourself building, modifying, or repairing something without the aid of experts or professionals

"Do it yourself" ("DIY") is the method of building, modifying, or repairing things without the direct aid of experts or professionals. Academic research describes DIY as behaviors where "individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and parts to produce, transform, or reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment ". DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as marketplace motivations, and identity enhancement.

<i>Kill Screen</i> American print and online magazine owned by Kill Screen Media, Inc

Kill Screen was a print and online magazine founded in 2009 by Jamin Warren and Chris Dahlen and owned by Kill Screen Media, Inc. It focused on video games and culture, but also included articles based on entertainment. The name is based on the infamous video game term of the same name.

Condé Nast Inc. is an American mass media company founded in 1909 by Condé Montrose Nast, based at One World Trade Center in Manhattan and owned by Advance Publications.

On March 13, 2016, Pitchfork was redesigned. According to an announcement post during the redesign, they said: [12]

In August 2018, Pitchfork's longtime executive editor Mark Richardson stepped down. He began writing for the site in 1998 [13] and was employed full-time in 2007. [14]

On September 18, 2018, founder Ryan Schreiber stepped down as the site's top editor. He was replaced by Puja Patel as editor-in-chief on October 15, 2018. [15]

On January 8, 2019, Schreiber announced he would be exiting the company. [16]

In January 2019, Condé Nast announced it will put all its titles behind a paywall by the end of the year, including Pitchfork. [3]

Influence

Publicity and artist popularity

Pitchfork's opinions have gained increased cultural currency; some in the mainstream media view the site as a barometer of the independent music scene, and positive quotes from its reviews are increasingly used in press releases and affixed to the front of CDs.

Some publications [4] have cited Pitchfork in having played a part in "breaking" artists such as Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Interpol, The Go! Team, Junior Boys, The Books, Broken Social Scene, Cold War Kids, Wolf Parade, Tapes 'n Tapes, and Titus Andronicus although the site's true impact on their popularity remains a source of frequent debate.

Conversely, Pitchfork has also been seen as being a negative influence on some indie artists. As suggested in a Washington Post article in April 2006, Pitchfork's reviews can have a significant influence on an album's popularity, especially if it had only been available to a limited audience or had been released on an independent record label. A dismissive 0.0 review of former Dismemberment Plan frontman Travis Morrison's Travistan album led to a large sales drop and a virtual college radio blacklist. [4] On the other hand, "an endorsement from Pitchfork—which dispenses its approval one-tenth of a point at a time, up to a maximum of 10 points—is very valuable, indeed." [4]

Examples of Pitchfork's impact include:

Size, readership and site traffic

Pitchfork now receives an audience of more than 240,000 readers per day, and more than 1.5 million unique visitors per month, making it the most popular independent-focused music publication online. [21] [22] On October 24, 2003, the author of Pitchformula.com reported that Pitchfork had published 5,575 reviews from 158 different authors, with an average length of just over 520 words. Together, the reviews featured a total of 2,901,650 words. [23]

Criticism

In the 2000s the website's journalism favored independent music, favoring lo-fi and often obscure indie rock and giving only cursory treatment to other genres. [24] The website had a reputation for publishing reviews early and for being unpredictable, often strongly dependent on the reviewer's personal reaction. In a 2006 article in Slate , Matthew Shaer accused Pitchfork of deliberately writing provocative and contrarian reviews in order to attract attention. [25]

The website was criticized in those years for the quality of its writing. A 2006 article in City Pages noted the large discretion the site gave to its writers, arguing it was "under-edited" and that the prose was often "overly florid". [24] Shaer singled out some examples of "verbose and unreadable writing". [25] In response, Schreiber told City Pages that "I trust the writers to their opinions and to their own style and presentation. The most important thing to me is they know what they're talking about and are insightful." [24]

Leaked music

In August 2006, a directory on Pitchfork's servers containing over 300 albums was compromised. A web surfer managed to discover and download the collection, which included The Decemberists' The Crane Wife and TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain , both of which had been leaked to peer-to-peer networks. Allegedly, one of the albums on the server, Joanna Newsom's Ys , had not been available on file-sharing networks. [26]

Factual errors

Pitchfork has been criticized directly by artists for misrepresentation, most famously in 2007 by the artist M.I.A. for what one of their writers later described as "perpetuating the male-led ingenue myth" with regard to her work. [27] [28] Some have argued this is not isolated to Pitchfork in the music press, while this incident was later cited by Björk, [29] who criticized the site for assuming female musicians do not usually write or produce their own music. Pitchfork's articles on M.I.A. and her career since the incident have been noticeably negative and have attracted media commentary; [30] an article titled "M.I.A. Uses Pitchfork Tweets to Diss Pitchfork" was printed by LA Weekly in 2010. [31]

Parodies

The Pitchfork Review

Logo of The Pitchfork Review The Pitchfork Review logo.jpg
Logo of The Pitchfork Review

In December 2013, Pitchfork Media debuted The Pitchfork Review, a quarterly print journal focused on long-form music writing and design-focused content. [38] J. C. Gabel, its first editor, had been the publisher of The Chicagoan and founding publisher of Stop Smiling . [39] Pitchfork planned a limited-edition quarterly publication of about 10,000 copies of each issue, perfect bound, and printed on glossy, high-quality 8-by-10¼ paper. [40] It was expected that about two-thirds of the content would be original, with the remaining one-third recycled from the Pitchfork website. [40] The International Business Times likened the publication's literary aspirations to The New Yorker and The Paris Review . [41] It ended after 11 issues [42] in November 2016. [43]

Music festivals

Intonation Music Festival

In 2005, Pitchfork curated the Intonation Music Festival, attracting approximately 15,000 attendees to Chicago's Union Park for a two-day bill featuring performances by 25 acts, including Broken Social Scene, The Decemberists, The Go! Team, and an appearance by Les Savy Fav.

Pitchfork Music Festival

On July 29 and 30, 2006, the publication premiered its own Pitchfork Music Festival in the same park. The event attracted over 18,000 attendees per day. More than 40 bands performed at the inaugural festival, including Spoon and Yo La Tengo, as well as a rare headlining set by reunited Tropicália band Os Mutantes. [44]

The Pitchfork Music Festival was held again in 2007. It was expanded to three days (Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 15), with the first day being a collaboration between Pitchfork and the British music festival All Tomorrow's Parties as part of the latter's "Don't Look Back" series, in which seminal artists perform their most legendary albums in their entirety. Performers that evening included Sonic Youth playing Daydream Nation , Slint playing Spiderland , and GZA/Genius playing Liquid Swords . Some of the other artists who performed over the weekend included Yoko Ono, De La Soul, Cat Power, The New Pornographers, Stephen Malkmus, Clipse, Iron & Wine, Girl Talk, Of Montreal, Deerhunter, Dan Deacon, The Ponys, and The Sea and Cake. Since 2011, a European winter edition of the festival takes place in Paris.

All Tomorrow's Parties

In 2008 Pitchfork collaborated with All Tomorrow's Parties to curate half of the bill for one of their May festival weekends. This was the first event that Pitchfork has been involved in outside of the United States.

Rating system

Pitchfork's music reviews use two different rating systems:

On October 24, 2003, Pitchformula.com [45] made a survey of the 5,575 reviews available on Pitchfork at that time, showing that:

British Sea Power's 2008 album Do You Like Rock Music? was initially awarded a tongue-in-cheek rating of "U.2", however the page now gives a rating of 8.2, seemingly at odds with the critical review. [46] Their rating of Run the Jewels' remix album Meow the Jewels (2015) was a pictogram of a cat's head with hearts for eyes – highlighting the pictogram and right-clicking on it reveals that the actual score is 7.0. [47] Their review of Pope Francis' album Wake Up! featured the rating "3:16," though using the same method of revealing Meow the Jewels' actual score reveals the score to be 5.0. [48] Rather than give a proper review to Jet's Shine On , the site simply posted an embedded video of a monkey urinating into its own mouth and a 0. [49]

Initial release 10.0 rated albums

The following is a list of albums given Pitchfork's highest possible rating, on initial release. The score is rare and has only been given to eleven albums since the site was launched in 1995. Many more albums have been given a 10 on re-release. Note that Pitchfork has since deleted the reviews for 12 Rods, Amon Tobin, Walt Mink, The Flaming Lips, and Bob Dylan without replacing them with newer reviews, effectively reducing the canon of albums that Pitchfork still considers to be worthy of a 10.0 on initial release to six albums.

Relaxation of the Asshole , a comedy album by Guided by Voices singer Robert Pollard, was awarded a dual 0 and 10 on initial release. A later site redesign changed the rating to 0 only, although the explanation for the unusual rating remains in the text of the review. [50]

ArtistTitleYear
12 Rods Gay? 1996 [51]
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Source Tags & Codes 2002 [52]
Amon Tobin Bricolage 1997 [53]
Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert 1998 [54]
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy I See a Darkness [55] 1999
The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin [56]
Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 2010 [57]
Radiohead Kid A 2000 [58]
Radiohead OK Computer 1997 [59]
Walt Mink El Producto 1996 [60]
Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot 2002 [61]

Pitchfork awards

Pitchfork Album of the Year

YearArtistAlbumNationSource
1998 Outkast Aquemini Flag of the United States.svg  United States [62] [note 1]
1999 The Dismemberment Plan Emergency & I [63]
2000 Radiohead Kid A Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom [64]
2001 The Microphones The Glow Pt. 2 Flag of the United States.svg  United States [65]
2002 Interpol Turn On the Bright Lights [66]
2003 The Rapture Echoes [67]
2004 Arcade Fire Funeral Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada [68]
2005 Sufjan Stevens Illinois Flag of the United States.svg  United States [69]
2006 The Knife Silent Shout Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden [70]
2007 Panda Bear Person Pitch Flag of the United States.svg  United States [71]
2008 Fleet Foxes Sun Giant / Fleet Foxes [72]
2009 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion [73]
2010 Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [74]
2011 Bon Iver Bon Iver, Bon Iver [75]
2012 Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, M.A.A.D City [76]
2013 Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City [77]
2014 Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 2 [78]
2015 Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly [79]
2016 Solange A Seat at the Table [80]
2017 Kendrick Lamar Damn [81]
2018 Mitski Be the Cowboy Flag of Japan.svg  Japan  / [82]
  1. The 1998 albums list was published in February 2018 as a retrospective. 1999 was the first year that Pitchfork published a regular year-end albums poll.

Pitchfork Track of the Year

YearArtistSongNationSource
2003 Outkast "Hey Ya!"Flag of the United States.svg  United States [83]
2004 Annie "Heartbeat"Flag of Norway.svg  Norway [84]
2005 Antony and the Johnsons "Hope There's Someone"Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom [85]
2006 Justin Timberlake featuring T.I. "My Love"Flag of the United States.svg  United States [86]
2007 LCD Soundsystem "All My Friends" [87]
2008 Hercules and Love Affair "Blind" [88]
2009 Animal Collective "My Girls" [89]
2010 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti "Round and Round" [90]
2011 M83 "Midnight City"Flag of France.svg  France [91]
2012 Grimes "Oblivion"Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada [92]
2013 Drake featuring Majid Jordan "Hold On, We're Going Home" [93]
2014 Future Islands "Seasons (Waiting on You)"Flag of the United States.svg  United States [94]
2015 Kendrick Lamar "Alright" [95]
2016 Kanye West featuring The-Dream, Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price, and Kirk Franklin "Ultralight Beam" [96]
2017 Cardi B "Bodak Yellow" [97]
2018 The 1975 "Love It If We Made It"Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom [98]

Pitchfork Video of the Year

YearArtistVideoNationSource
2015 Kendrick Lamar "Alright"Flag of the United States.svg  United States [99]
2016 Beyoncé Lemonade [100]
2017 Björk "The Gate"Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland [101]
2018 Rosalía "Malamente – Cap 1: Augurio"Flag of Spain.svg  Spain [102]

See also

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