With Pitchfork Review, a Music Site Plants a Flag in Print
By BEN SISARIO
Published: November 21, 2013
After 17 years as the definitive online publication about alternative music, Pitchfork is joining the tweedy world of print with a new quarterly journal.
Known for its record reviews that can launch or sink a new band, Pitchfork said on Thursday that the first issue of The Pitchfork Review would appear on Dec. 14, available by subscription and at select newsstands. The new quarterly will include long-form music features, columns and illustrations “as a way to give readers a more timeless experience rooted in the collector mentality,” the announcement said.
Like the vogue for vinyl records in an age of iTunes and Pandora, a well-designed physical publication has a certain attraction, and also represents success. Chris Kaskie, the president of Pitchfork Media, the company behind the website, said in an interview that the idea for the quarterly had been in the works for years, partly as a response to offering only a digital existence.
“There’s a fatigue factor in terms of running a website where hundreds of thousands of words are being published,” Mr. Kaskie said. “There’s a worry that while it’s all permanent, pages get refreshed and you have to go through the whole thing to find a story. We’re music magazine fans, and this was conceptualized from magazines and fanzines and beyond.”
The Pitchfork Review, which Pitchfork expects to limit to around 10,000 copies each issue, will be 8-by-10¼ inches and perfect bound, with glossy, high-quality paper, not unlike ESPN’s Grantland anthologies. Individual issues of The Review will cost $19.96, after the year the original site went online; subscriptions are $45 a year until Dec. 15, and $50 thereafter. About two-thirds of the content in the quarterly will be original, with the rest repurposed from Pitchfork’s site, Mr. Kaskie said.
J.C. Gabel, an editor behind the magazine Stop Smiling and the recent revival of The Chicagoan, will join The Review as its managing editor and associate publisher. The masthead will also include Ryan Schreiber, Pitchfork’s founder and chief executive; Mr. Kaskie as president and publisher; Michael Renaud, creative director; and Mark Richardson, the editor in chief of Pitchfork’s website, as a contributing editor.
The sole sponsor for the first year will be Converse, with ads on the front and back inside covers and a couple of pages inside. (There will be no advertising on either the front or back covers.)
Pitchfork, which says its website gets five million unique visitors each month, has been experimenting with publication formats recently. Last year, it began running long features as “cover stories,” with full-screen design that shifts as a reader clicks through the article, and in July it introduced The Dissolve, a site covering film; last week, Pitchfork introduced a phone and tablet app, Pitchfork Weekly.
Online, Pitchfork’s competitors include Spin, which in 2012 ceased print publication after 27 years, but has continued online with a revitalized website. Executives behind Spin have said that they have considered reinstating Spin as a print magazine in some form, but have not announced any plan for it.