Pitchfork Media

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Pitchfork Media
Pitchfork Media Logo
URL www.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 devoted to music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interviews. Its focus is on independent music,[1] especially indie rock. However, the range of musical genres covered extends to electronic, pop, hip hop, dance, folk, jazz, metal, and experimental music.

The site, which was established in 1995, concentrates on new music, but Pitchfork journalists also review reissued albums and box sets. 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 singles and albums of each year between 1999 and 2008.

Pitchfork has an online music store, lala.


[edit] History

An old Pitchfork logo

Pitchfork was created in Minneapolis, Minnesota in late 1995 by Ryan Schreiber, 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 began publishing daily, and was renamed "Pitchfork", a reference to Tony Montana's tattoo in the 1983 film Scarface.[2]

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.

[edit] Influence

Pitchfork's opinions have gained increased cultural currency in recent years; 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[3] 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, No Age, Wolf Parade, Tapes 'n Tapes and Titus Andronicus.

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 frontman Travis Morrison's Travistan album 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."[2]

[edit] 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."[4]
  • 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."[5]

[edit] Criticism

Along with its popularity, Pitchfork has attracted criticism.

One common complaint is that the site's journalism suffers from a narrow view of independent music, favoring lo-fi and often obscure indie rock and giving only cursory treatment to other genres.[6] Another is that the site's opinions reflect a "hipster" attitude, overly subject to changing musical trends, often speaking openly about what is considered "cool" and "uncool" to readers, and attempts to create hype around chosen scenes (such as "dance punk" or "freak folk") or acts (such as Animal Collective and Arcade Fire). Some critics have suggested that the site rates albums from particular music scenes or artists more favorably in order to bolster its influence when the music becomes popular.[7]

The majority of criticism, however, is aimed at the site's album reviewing style. Critics argue that the site often emphasizes a reviewers' own writing over the actual music being reviewed, sometimes not even reviewing the album and instead criticizing the artist's integrity.[6] Pitchfork is also known to give "0.0" ratings, deeming the work as utterly worthless. One critic wrote that Pitchfork's "0.0" rating of a particular album amounts to no more than a "cheap publicity stunt" for a website that "thrives on controversy."[8] The critic also hypothetically asked how a neo-Nazi punk record would be scored in comparison to these "0.0" albums, based on Pitchfork standards.[8]

[edit] 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.[9]
  • 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.[10] A similar, more light-hearted parody was created by Sub Pop.
  • On September 10, 2007, the satirical newspaper The Onion published a story in which Pitchfork Media editor Ryan Schreiber reviews music as a whole, giving it a 6.8 out of 10.[11]

[edit] 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 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.[12]

[edit] Music festivals

[edit] 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 a rare appearance by Les Savy Fav.

[edit] 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.[13]

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.

[edit] 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 is the first event that Pitchfork has been involved in outside of the United States.[citation needed]

[edit] Rating system

Pitchfork's music reviews use two different rating systems:

  • 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 simply label them one of the self-explanatory categories "New Music", "Old Music", "Video", "Advanced Music", "Rising", "WTF", the category of their most favorably regarded songs, "On Repeat" and, for the least favored songs, "Delete".
  • Album reviews are given a rating out of 10.0, specific to one decimal point.

On October 24, 2003, Pitchformula.com[14] made a survey of the 5,575 reviews available on Pitchfork at that time, showing that:

  • 6.7 was the average rating
  • 2,339 reviews had been awarded a rating of 7.4 or higher
  • 2,362 reviews had been awarded a rating of between 5.0 and 7.3
  • 873 reviews had been awarded a rating of less than 5.0[15]

The review for Radiohead's album In Rainbows seems to have taken a satirical approach towards the method of pay that Radiohead utilized for the album. It allows a user to type in their own rating, and when a question mark is clicked, says, "It's up to you" (similar to Radiohead's website). If clicked again, it says, "No really, it's 9.3".[16] British Sea Power's 2008 album Do You Like Rock Music? was awarded a rating of "U.2".[17] The review for Jet's 2006 album Shine On simply contained a video clip of a chimpanzee attempting to drink its own urine.[18]

[edit] Albums awarded a 10.0 rating

[edit] Initial release

The following albums received a 10.0 rating upon initial release:

1 While these albums received a rating 10.0, the reviews no longer exist on Pitchfork's website.[19]
2 In the review, this album theoretically received both a 10.0 and 0.0 rating. The rating humorously appeared as "(1)0.0"[20]

[edit] Re-release

The following albums received a 10.0 rating upon re-release:

1Album originally given an 8.7 by reviewer, but is now removed from the website.
2The article has since been removed from Pitchfork's site.

Occasionally, a Pitchfork reviewer awards a 10.0 rating to an album's reissue despite its initial release being awarded a lesser rating,

- Music has the Right to Children by Boards of Canada[21] (initially awarded 8.3[22])
- Endtroducing by DJ Shadow[23] (initially awarded 9.1[24])
- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel[25] (initially awarded 8.7[26])

[edit] Albums awarded a 0.0 rating

The following albums received a 0.0 rating either upon initial release or re-release:

1 This album had a 0.0 rating for only a few hours, after which the rating was changed to 3.3.
2 A feature defending the album and criticizing the review was later also published on the website.[27]
3 In this review, the critic writes "I'm giving it a 0.0 because you'll have to call this one on your own, sorry."[28]
4 This album was not given a rating—the review consisted only of a video of a chimpanzee urinating into its own mouth.[29]
5 The review of Phair's subsequent album expressed regret that the 0.0 was "wasted" on Liz Phair, because "it's much better than Somebody's Miracle."[30]
6 In the review, this album was given a "(1)0.0" theoretically giving it both a 10.0 and 0.0 rating.

[edit] Pitchfork.tv

On April 7, 2008, Pitchfork Media launched Pitchfork.tv, a website displaying videos related to many independent music acts. It features bands that are typically reviewed on pitchforkmedia.com.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Burns, Anna. "Pitchfork Media". ABC.net. http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/review/print/s1225869.htm. Retrieved on 2006-10-29. 
  2. ^ 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 on 2006-10-29. 
  3. ^ 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 on 2008-05-06. 
  4. ^ 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 on 2006-10-29. 
  5. ^ CR (June 2005). "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Interview". Tiny Mix Tapes. http://www.tinymixtapes.com/Clap-Your-Hands-Say-Yeah,2746. Retrieved on 2008-02-02. 
  6. ^ a b Thomas, Lindsey (June 14, 2006). "The Pitchfork Effect". City Pages. http://www.citypages.com/databank/27/1332/article14438.asp. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. 
  7. ^ Slate. "The Indie Music Site Everyone Loves to Hate". [1]
  8. ^ a b Dusted Features [ All Y'All Haters ]
  9. ^ Cross, David (May 5, 2005). "Albums to Listen to While Reading Overwrought Pitchfork Reviews". Pitchfork Media. http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/10279-guest-list-david-cross-albums-to-listen-to-while-reading-overwrought-pitchfork-reviews. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. 
  10. ^ "RichDork Media and Music Reviews and General Pretentiousness". Something Awful. 2004. http://www.somethingawful.com/fakesa/richdork/. Retrieved on 2007-04-28. 
  11. ^ "Pitchfork Gives Music 6.8". The Onion. September 5, 2007. http://www.theonion.com/content/news/pitchfork_gives_music_6_8. Retrieved on 2007-09-10. 
  12. ^ The Joanna Newsom leak - Music - The Phoenix
  13. ^ "Pitchfork Music Festival 2006". Pitchfork Media. August 2, 2006. http://pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/37687/Pitchfork_Music_Festival_2006. Retrieved on 2006-10-30. 
  14. ^ Pitchformula.com
  15. ^ Wilson, Loren Jan. "Statistics for the reviews database". pitchformula.com. http://www.pitchformula.com/stats.html. Retrieved on 2006-10-29. 
  16. ^ Radiohead: In Rainbows: Pitchfork Record Review
  17. ^ British Sea Power: Do You Like Rock Music?: Pitchfork Record Review
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ [3]
  20. ^ http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/20957-relaxation-of-the-asshole]
  21. ^ Boards of Canada Music Has the Right to Children (Reissue)
  22. ^ Boards of Canada Music Has the Right to Children [Original Review
  23. ^ DJ Shadow Entroducing Deluxe Edition
  24. ^ DJ Shadow Entroducing
  25. ^ Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: Pitchfork Record Review
  26. ^ Neutral Milk Hotel: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea: Pitchfork Review
  27. ^ Pitchfork: We Are The World: Zaireeka Is
  28. ^ John Frusciante: Smile From The Streets You Hold: Pitchfork Record Review
  29. ^ Suzuki, Ray (October 2, 2006). "Jet: Shine On: Pitchfork Record Review". Pitchfork. 1. http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/38853/Jet_Shine_On. Retrieved on 2006-12-10. 
  30. ^ Phillips, Amy (October 3, 2005). "Liz Phair: Somebody's Miracle: Pitchfork Record Review". Pitchfork. 1. http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/20834-somebodys-miracle. Retrieved on 2006-12-10. 

[edit] External links

[edit] Pitchfork sites

[edit] Other links

Personal tools