Founded by Ryan Schreiber in 1995, Pitchfork's prominence has both fueled and benefited from the popular rise of indie music in the last decade, eschewing the one paragraph review in favor of more detailed looks at a wide range of independent releases. The Chicago-based staff of Pitchfork numbers less than 15, while Pitchfork.tv makes its home in New York City and carries a full-time staff of five, including Schreiber.
"This all came from my feeling that a lot of these bands weren't being documented that much, if at all," says Schreiber. "And a lot of the video you can find (online) is not much better than a camera phone video of a show on YouTube."
The idea to expand Pitchfork's media offerings to video began brewing about two years ago but it wasn't until May 2007 that Schreiber saw it as a feasible venture. The result offers viewers free access to music videos, original shows and concert videos, as well as third party productions such as older concert films. And while Pitchfork's review style has been widely criticized as elitist, the new video site has no news updates or anything resembling a ranking out of ten.
"There's so much in the independent music world that there's really no shortage of what can be covered or played by us," says Schreiber. "It makes sense that, as popular as independent music has already become, it has the potential to become the 'mainstream' music. So it's possible that this will attract an audience outside of regular Pitchfork readers, people interested in (independent) music who want something different from the conventional channels of commercial radio or MTV."
The new site has been entirely self-financed by Pitchfork and Schreiber says they're holding off on posting ads for the first couple of months to help viewers first get comfortable with the content and interface. "We're working with sponsors to figure out how we can do it in the most inoffensive and unobtrusive way," he says.
As Pitchfork Media grows, a cynic might see the rumblings of an indie music empire, but Schreiber says any growth is an organic extension of the site's original motives."Running this thing as we see fit has worked for the last 15 years," says Schreiber. "Once I was able to work at Pitchfork full-time I had everything I wanted. So if I have something like Pitchfork I can throw all of my time into and be proud of, that beats cashing out for a bunch of money."
Read more from Schreiber here