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|Type of site||Music webzine|
|Created by||Ryan Schreiber|
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.
Pitchfork was created in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 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 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.
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.
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.
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."
Pitchfork's music reviews use two different rating systems:
On April 7, 2008, Pitchfork Media launched Pitchfork.tv, a website displaying videos and original content related to independent music acts. On March 12, 2009, Pitchfork.tv was incorporated into Pitchfork's new domain, Pitchfork.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.'
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. 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. 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." Pitchfork originally gave the Flaming Lips album Zaireeka a scathing 0.0/10 in a review that also derided all Flaming Lips fans.
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. 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. Pitchfork's articles on M.I.A. and her career since the incident have been noticeably negative and have attracted media commentary; an article titled "M.I.A. Uses Pitchfork Tweets to Diss Pitchfork" was printed by LA Weekly in 2010.
|1999||The Dismemberment Plan||Emergency & I||United States|||
|2001||The Microphones||The Glow Pt. 2||United States|||
|2002||Interpol||Turn on the Bright Lights||United States|||
|2003||The Rapture||Echoes||United States|||
|2005||Sufjan Stevens||Illinois||United States|||
|2006||The Knife||Silent Shout||Sweden|||
|2007||Panda Bear||Person Pitch||United States|||
|2008||Fleet Foxes||Sun Giant/Fleet Foxes||United States|||
|2009||Animal Collective||Merriweather Post Pavilion||United States|||
|2010||Kanye West||My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy||United States|||
|2011||Bon Iver||Bon Iver||United States|||
|2003||Outkast||"Hey Ya!"||United States|||
|2005||Antony & The Johnsons||"Hope There's Someone"||England|||
|2006||Justin Timberlake featuring T.I.||"My Love"||United States|||
|2007||LCD Soundsystem||"All My Friends"||United States|||
|2008||Hercules and Love Affair||"Blind"||United States|||
|2009||Animal Collective||"My Girls"||United States|||
|2010||Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti||"Round and Round"||United States|||