Pitchfork Media, usually known simply as Pitchfork, is a Chicago-based daily Internet publication devoted to music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interview. Its focus is on independent music, 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 since 1999.
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.
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.
Size, readership and site trafficEdit
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.
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. However, this data was recorded in 2003; since that point the site has continued to release reviews on an almost daily basis (excluding weekends and public holidays).
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. Since the popular resurgence of "indie" music in 2004, some publications 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 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, "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."