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Pitchfork Media

                   
Pitchfork Media
Pitchfork Media Logo
URL pitchfork.com
Type of site Music webzine
Registration No
Owner Ryan Schreiber
Created by Ryan Schreiber
Launched 1995
Current status Active

Pitchfork Media, usually known simply as Pitchfork, is a Chicago-based daily Internet publication established in 1995 that is devoted to music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interviews. Its focus is on underground and independent music, especially indie rock.[1]

Contents

  History

  A previous Pitchfork logo

Pitchfork was created in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1995 by Ryan Schreiber,[2] then just out of high school. Influenced by local fanzines and college radio station KUOM, Schreiber, who had no previous writing experience, aimed to provide the Internet with a regularly updated resource for independent music. At first bearing the name Turntable, the site was originally updated monthly with interviews and reviews. In May 1996, the site moved to the domain PitchforkMedia.com, began publishing daily, and was renamed "Pitchfork", a reference to Tony Montana's tattoo in the 1983 film Scarface.[3]

In early 1999, Schreiber uprooted Pitchfork from its Minneapolis base and relocated 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 both its extensive coverage of underground music and its writing style, which was often unhindered by the conventions of print journalism. In October of that year, the site added a daily music news section. Early 2009 saw a complete renovation of the website's layout and a move to a new domain, Pitchfork.com. In June 2011, Mark Richardson was named the latest editor-in-chief of Pitchfork.[4]

In 2008, the book The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs from Punk to the Present–edited and compiled by the Pitchfork staff and freelance writers–was released.

  Influence

The Washington Post cited Pitchfork in having played a part in "breaking" artists such as Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Modest Mouse.[5]

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 previously 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 vocalist Travis Morrison's debut solo album Travistan led to a large sales drop and a virtual college radio blacklist. On the other hand, as one Washington Post reporter wrote, "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."[3]

  Examples

  • Arcade Fire is among the bands most commonly cited to have benefited from a Pitchfork review. In a 2005 Chicago Tribune article, a Merge Records employee stated, "After the Pitchfork review, Funeral went out of print for about a week because we got so many orders for the record."[6]
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah member Lee Sargent has discussed the impact of Pitchfork's influence on their album, saying, "The thing about a publication like Pitchfork is that they can decide when that happens. You know what I mean? They can say, 'We're going to speed up the process and this is going to happen...now!' And it was a kick in the pants for us, because we lost control of everything."[7]
  • Wired magazine has attributed the success of indie rock band Broken Social Scene to editor-in-chief Ryan Schreiber's hype-generating review of the band. Frontman Kevin Drew said that, following the review, "Everyone was coming up to us, saying, 'We heard about you from Pitchfork.' It basically opened the door for us. It gave us an audience", and that the band "suddenly found [themselves] selling out venues."[8]

  Rating system

Pitchfork's music reviews use two different rating systems:

  • Album reviews are given a rating out of 10.0, specific to one decimal point.[9] In addition, certain notable albums are rewarded with a label of "Best New Music" or "Best New Reissue".
  • Individual track reviews were formerly ranked from 1 to 5 stars, but on January 15, 2007, the site introduced a new system called "Forkcast". In it, instead of assigning tracks a particular rating, reviewers labeled them: "New Music"; "Old Music"; "Video"; "Advanced Music"; "Rising"; "WTF"; their most favorably regarded songs, "On Repeat"; and for the least favored songs, "Delete". On March 12, 2009, Pitchfork switched back to an older system, rating songs in a range between 1 and 10 points.[citation needed] Since that time, Pitchfork has stopped using a numbered rating system for individual songs and has introduced a feature known as "Best New Tracks" which consists of a selection of notable recent songs.[citation needed]

  Pitchfork.tv

On April 7, 2008, Pitchfork Media launched Pitchfork.tv, a website displaying videos and original content related to independent music acts.[citation needed] On March 12, 2009, Pitchfork.tv was incorporated into Pitchfork's new domain, Pitchfork.com.[citation needed]

  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.[10]

  Pitchfork Music Festival

On July 29 and 30, 2006, the publication premiered its own Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park, Chicago. 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.[11]

The festival has been held every year since, and has featured artists such as Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, The National, The Hold Steady, !!!, Spoon, Ghostface Killah, Dinosaur Jr., Cat Power, Spiritualized, Mastodon, Yoko Ono, Stephen Malkmus, Vampire Weekend, De La Soul, Yo La Tengo, The New Pornographers, Of Montreal, Band of Horses, M. Ward, Iron and Wine, The Mountain Goats, Clipse, Girl Talk, Grizzly Bear, No Age, Ted Leo, Les Savy Fav, Devendra Banhart, Liars, and Deerhunter.[citation needed]

The 2009 festival, which took place in July, featured Built to Spill, The Jesus Lizard, Yo La Tengo, and Tortoise performing setlists voted on by attendees, as well as performances by The Flaming Lips, The National, Grizzly Bear, M83, The Walkmen, Yeasayer, Blitzen Trapper, The Black Lips, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Matt and Kim, and Pharoahe Monch.[citation needed]

  All Tomorrow's Parties

In 2007, the Pitchfork Music Festival was expanded to three days (Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 15), with the first day being a collaboration between Pitchfork and the UK-based production company All Tomorrow's Parties as part of the latter's "Don't Look Back" concert series, in which artists performed the content of albums in their entirety. Performers that evening included Sonic Youth playing Daydream Nation, Slint playing Spiderland, and GZA/Genius playing Liquid Swords. The collaboration continued in 2008, with Public Enemy, Sebadoh, and Mission of Burma.[citation needed]

Pitchfork also collaborated with All Tomorrow's Parties to co-curate the ATP vs Pitchfork festival in Camber Sands, UK.[citation needed]

  Criticisms

Some critics have accused the site of rating albums from particular music scenes or artists more favorably in order to bolster its influence when the music becomes popular.[12]

The majority of criticism, however, is aimed at the site's album reviewing style, with the site being accused of often placing the emphasis on the reviewer's own writing and personal biases over the actual music being reviewed.

  Parodies

  • When Pitchfork asked comedian David Cross to compile a list of his favorite albums, he instead provided them with a list of "Albums to Listen to While Reading Overwrought Pitchfork Reviews". In it, he satirically piled over-the-top praise on fictional indie rock records, mocking Pitchfork Media's reviewing style.[13]
  • In 2005, Aziz Ansari and Rob Heubel hosted an episode of the NYC TV indie music show New York Noise while pretending to be Pitchfork's editors in chief
  • In 2004, comedy website Something Awful created a parody of Pitchfork's front page. Entitled "RichDork Media", the page makes reference to nonexistent, obscure-sounding indie-rock bands in its reviews, news headlines and advertisements. The rating system measures music on its proximity to the band Radiohead.[14] A similar, more light-hearted parody was created by Sub Pop.[15]
  • On September 10, 2007, the satirical newspaper The Onion published a story in which Pitchfork Media founder and editor Ryan Schreiber reviews music as a whole, giving it a 6.8 out of 10.[16]
  • In Jeffrey Lewis' suicide-themed song entitled "So What?", after describing a failed jump from a bridge, he jokingly sings, "A large garbage barge comes and drops twenty tons of toxic waste on my face/And as I sink from the sun to whatever’s to come/My last sight is the bums who all change their signs into twos, threes, and ones/And after this discourse there’s a 3.6, of course it must be Pitchfork."[17]
  • On August 12, 2009, the pop culture website PopSense satirically reviewed an entire day's worth of Pitchfork content in the style of a Pitchfork review.[18][19][20]

  Leaked music

In August 2006, a directory on Pitchfork's servers containing over 300 albums was compromised. A person 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 previously leaked to peer-to-peer networks. Allegedly, one of the albums on the server, Joanna Newsom's Ys, had not been available previously on file-sharing networks.[21]

  Deleted and changed reviews

Pitchfork has been criticized for deleting older reviews from their archive in an effort to keep up with the changing trends in indie music. One such example is the 9.5/10 review written for Save Ferris' album It Means Everything.[22] Similarly, the original review of Psyence Fiction by UNKLE received 9.8/10, but the review was later deleted and when the group released their next album 4 years later, the website gave it a score of 5.0/10 and described it as an improvement on their debut, calling Psyence Fiction 'one of the most anti-climactic and jaw-dropping disappointments of recent years' which 'came up short on little things like, oh, vitality, restraint, emotional resonance, and tunes.'[23]

Negative reviews of two By Divine Right albums were also removed from Pitchfork after members Brendan Canning and Leslie Feist became successful with the band Broken Social Scene and their own solo work. Steven Byrd's deleted review of By Divine Right's Bless This Mess, on which Canning and Feist play bass and guitar, went so far as to compare the band to "retard(s) with a guitar" who "wouldn't know Rock and Roll if she broke into their house and beat up their children," rating the album 1.8 out of ten.[24] After Belle & Sebastian's "comeback" in the mid-to-late 2000s, Pitchfork removed their 0.8-rated review of The Boy With the Arab Strap from the site.[25][26] The reviewer lambasted the band for writing songs that were "so sticky they should be hanging from Ben Stiller's ear, and I don't mean that in a good way."[27] Pitchfork originally gave the Flaming Lips album Zaireeka a scathing 0.0/10 in a review that also derided all Flaming Lips fans.[28]

Interestingly, Pitchfork has also removed the 9.4/10 review for the album Things Fall Apart by The Roots, presumably because it specifically stated that Pitchfork "will not un-publish anything."[29]

  Misinformation

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.[30][31] Some have argued this is not isolated to Pitchfork in the music press, while this incident was later cited and similarly condemned by the artist Björk.[32] Pitchfork's articles on M.I.A. and her career since the incident have been noticeably negative and have attracted media commentary;[33] an article titled "M.I.A. Uses Pitchfork Tweets to Diss Pitchfork" was printed by LA Weekly in 2010.[34]

  Pitchfork Album and Song of the Year winners

  Pitchfork Album of the Year

Year Artist Album Nation Source
1999 The Dismemberment Plan Emergency & I  United States [6]
2000 Radiohead Kid A  England [7]
2001 The Microphones The Glow Pt. 2  United States [8]
2002 Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights  United States [9]
2003 The Rapture Echoes  United States [10]
2004 Arcade Fire Funeral  Canada [11]
2005 Sufjan Stevens Illinois  United States [12]
2006 The Knife Silent Shout  Sweden [13]
2007 Panda Bear Person Pitch  United States [14]
2008 Fleet Foxes Sun Giant/Fleet Foxes  United States [15]
2009 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion  United States [16]
2010 Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy  United States [17]
2011 Bon Iver Bon Iver  United States [18]

  Pitchfork Song of the Year

Year Artist Song Nation Source
2003 Outkast "Hey Ya!"  United States [19]
2004 Annie "Heartbeat"  Norway [20]
2005 Antony & The Johnsons "Hope There's Someone"  England [21]
2006 Justin Timberlake featuring T.I. "My Love"  United States [22]
2007 LCD Soundsystem "All My Friends"  United States [23]
2008 Hercules and Love Affair "Blind"  United States [24]
2009 Animal Collective "My Girls"  United States [25]
2010 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti "Round and Round"  United States [26]
2011 M83 "Midnight City"  France [27]


  See also

  References

  1. ^ Burns, Anna. "Pitchfork Media". ABC.net. http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/review/print/s1225869.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-29. 
  2. ^ "The 2009 Time 100 Finalists". Time. March 19, 2009. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1883644_1883653_1885468,00.html. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b du Lac, Josh Freedom (April 30, 2006). "Giving Indie Acts A Plug, or Pulling It". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/28/AR2006042800457.html. Retrieved 2006-10-29. 
  4. ^ "Pitchfork Names New Editor-in-Chief"
  5. ^ du Lac, Josh Freedo (April 30, 2006). "Giving Indie Acts A Plug, or Pulling It". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/28/AR2006042800457.html. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  6. ^ Kot, Greg (May 8, 2005). "Pitchfork e-zine tells indie fans what's hot and not". The Honolulu Advertiser. http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/May/08/il/il22p.html. Retrieved 2006-10-29. 
  7. ^ CR (June 2005). "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Interview". Tiny Mix Tapes. http://www.tinymixtapes.com/Clap-Your-Hands-Say-Yeah,2746. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  8. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (September 2006). "The Pitchfork Effect". Wired. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.09/pitchfork.html. 
  9. ^ "Grampall Jookabox news: Pitchfork pricing strategy", 10 December 2008
  10. ^ Indie Bands That Made the Grade in Webland, By KELEFA SANNEH, Published: July 19, 2005, The New York Times
  11. ^ "Pitchfork Music Festival 2006". Pitchfork Media. August 2, 2006. http://pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/37687/Pitchfork_Music_Festival_2006. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  12. ^ Shaer, Matthew (2006-11-28). "Slate. "The Indie Music Site Everyone Loves to Hate"". Slate.com. http://www.slate.com/id/2154469. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  13. ^ Cross, David (May 5, 2005). "Albums to Listen to While Reading Overwrought Pitchfork Reviews". Pitchfork Media. http://pitchfork.com/features/guest-lists/6044-david-cross-albums-to-listen-to-while-reading-overwrought-pitchfork-reviews/. Retrieved 2011-09-04. 
  14. ^ "RichDork Media and Music Reviews and General Pretentiousness". Something Awful. 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-06-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20080627004409/http://www.somethingawful.com/fakesa/richdork/. Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  15. ^ "Popdork Feature: The Dean's List". Sub Pop. 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-08-06. http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20040806183542/http://www.subpop.com/features/pdork/. Retrieved 2011-04-01. 
  16. ^ "Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8". The Onion. September 5, 2007. http://www.theonion.com/content/news/pitchfork_gives_music_6_8. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  17. ^ Jeffrey Lewis @ Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn - YouTube
  18. ^ "A Pitchfork Review of a Day In Pitchfork", PopSense, August 12, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  19. ^ "Honest Opinions or Hidden Agendas?", Topics in Digital Media, October 9, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  20. ^ "Here's a Review OF Pitchfork's So Many Dynamos The Loud Wars Review", Riverfront Times, August 12, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
  21. ^ Camille Dodero (2006-09-13). "The Joanna Newsom leak – Music". The Phoenix. http://www.thephoenix.com/article_ektid22637.aspx. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  22. ^ "Critical Differences: Pitchfork’s Lost Archives – Save Ferris Edition". Jonnyleather.com. 2010-04-27. http://jonnyleather.com/blog1/2010/04/critical-differences-pitchforks-lost-archives-save-ferris-edition/. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  23. ^ UNKLE: Never Never Land | Album Reviews | Pitchfork
  24. ^ Steven Byrd, review (via Internet Archive)
  25. ^ Jason Josephes,[1] (via Internet Archive)
  26. ^ Belle & Sebastian Discography [2] (via Pitchfork Media)
  27. ^ Jason Josephes, [3] (via Internet Archive)
  28. ^ Jason Josephes, [4] (via Internet Archive)
  29. ^ Samir Khan, [5] (via Internet Archive)
  30. ^ "Album Reviews: M.I.A.: Kala". Pitchfork. 2007-08-21. http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/10564-kala/. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  31. ^ Thomson, Paul (2007). "M.I.A. Confronts the Haters". Pitchforkmedia. http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/news/44529-mia-confronts-the-haters. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  32. ^ Nicholson, Rebecca (August 27, 2008). "Why Björk is right to stand up for female producers". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2008/aug/27/whybjorkisrighttostickup. 
  33. ^ Culture Desk: M.I.A. Shouldn’t Have Apologized : The New Yorker
  34. ^ M.I.A. Uses Pitchfork Tweets to Diss Pitchfork, Show Off Obama Ecstasy Pills Pic - Los Angeles Music - West Coast Sound

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