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Pretentious--and Loving It

Pitchfork has readers wrapped around its spears.

If on Friday nights you find yourself playing quiet games of Scrabble on the internet while all of your friends rekindle their youths at mysteriously named clubs, watching bands with increasingly indecipherable names; or you just got the latest MP3 player on the market and so far it only has music recorded before you were born and a few dozen videos of your cat jumping into a box; or you belong to the masses who can't tell the difference between the Eagles, Department of Eagles and Eagles of Death Metal, or Minus the Bear, Grizzly Bear, Bipolar Bear, Bear vs. Shark and Panda Bear, relax. Pitchfork Media is here to help.

Pitchfork is a daily internet publication known primarily for its reviews of albums from independent artists, which combine intensely well-informed music critiques, a blizzard of obscure pop-cultural references and a blunt writing style that remains unhindered by the rules governing print journalism. It is not, in other words, your parents' music magazine. In fact, with so many new acts to tear to shreds or shove onto a pedestal, Pitchfork couldn't find time to answer our calls, so we decided to do a little critiquing of our own. Here's the breakdown.

The Reviews section offers daily album and track reviews. These assessments are what draw so many readers to Pitchfork: a unique writing style that attempts to walk the thin line between pretentious and pop culture savvy.



The News section features updates on new bands, tours, festivals and so on, with an oft-criticized emphasis on a certain brand of indie music that pigeonholes readers into the reviled hipster category, yet saves them from Britney Spears-like acts.



Arguably, the most innovative sections of the site, Pitchfork.tv and Forkcast, provide multimedia examples of what Pitchfork's staff considers the juiciest morsels of modern music. Pitchfork.tv offers exclusive peeks at performances and music videos, while Forkcast features about half a dozen tracks for readers every weekday. The drawback to these sections is the limited scope, which is also what drives the bulk of Pitchfork's audience.


The Features section contains articles about bands and their histories as well as interesting record labels, while the Best New Music section distinguishes the top-rated (by Pitchfork's standards) music and offers a playlist of noteworthy tracks.

While the website's sleek design doesn't scream rock 'n' roll, it allows for simple navigation to an assortment of useful features, with a straightforward three-column format topped by a navigation bar and a handy search field. The design offers a no-frills account of the state of independent music while letting music fans find new tunes and not take anyone else's word for it--not even Pitchfork's.

 

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This article was originally published in the August 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Pretentious--and Loving It.

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