Art as a Social Tool: Pitchfork Media

Pitchfork Media is an online music journalism website, advertising itself as “the most trusted voice in music”. Though the website’s bread and butter are album and

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Pinegrove and Alex G, two bands associated with the Emo Revival movement, play a house show during SXSW 2015. 

song reviews, they also publish articles and interviews with various musicians. The content is primarily focused on independent music of all types of genres, and in recent years has incorporated more mainstream hip-hop and trap into its lens. Pitchfork has many regular contributors with each author roughly specializing in their own genres. Pitchfork utilizes a ten-point rating system in all of its reviews and an additional “best new music” tag on certain albums and songs deemed essential listening.

 

As one of the most popular and widely used music criticism websites of the digital age, Pitchfork utilizes many different ways to connect readers with music beyond a computer screen. They host an annual festival with many musicians considered to be on the cutting edge. On their social media, they create and post mini-documentaries about classic albums on their Twitter and Facebook profiles. They often utilize their social media as something of an extension of their own website, linking pages and articles to form one cohesive and singular brand message.

Though a music criticism site, Pitchfork does not exist in a bubble, as evidenced by the articles they publish. Recent articles posted about the best protest songs of all time and coverage of music’s impact on political unrest work to deliver a more cohesive message about Pitchfork’s brand personality as a whole. This proves a point that in the digital realm where music is concerned, it is essential for success to move beyond mere content delivery to creating some kind of larger context that gives meaning to the content distilled. The Pitchfork target audience is wide, honing in on those oh-so-coveted tech-savvy, culturally aware Millennials. They attempt to utilize music not just as an extension of what it means to be aware and informed in the digital age, but as the pinnacle— the merging of a defined social conscience, expression, and art intertwined through the communal nature of music.

They attempt to utilize music not just as an extension of what it means to be aware and informed in the digital age, but as the pinnacle— the merging of a defined social conscience, expression, and art intertwined through the communal nature of music.

One of the most prominent writers on Pitchfork is Ian Cohen. Having written for Pitchfork for a number of years, the albums that he reviews are mostly centered around punk and indie rock. More prominently than most other writers on the site, Cohen positions himself as something of a champion of the Emo Revival genre. A far cry from the Myspace and Hot Topic days of the early 2000’s, the genre has been gaining traction in many circles for its heartfelt lyrics combined with punk-influenced instrumentation. His online presence reflects this dedication to evangelizing the genre. On his Twitter, he interacts heavily with members of the various bands that he reviews. This is noteworthy because though musicians and those who write about their art have long found themselves kindred, if sometimes adversarial spirits, their interactions have never been as public. In addition, the nature of Twitter allows for others to join in on the conversation and become familiar with those who make the music in a way that was previously
impossible.

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