Pitchfork Lived and Died by the Internet


Nick Heer:

If your music listening experience is mostly driven by playlists and suggestions, you might be less interested in reviewers and critics. That is not a denigration of how anyone listens to music, mind you — I am not a prescriptivist about this kind of stuff. You should experience art in the way you choose.

But streaming music is ultimately just a catalogue into which anyone can dive. It reduces the bar to entry and, on the other side of the same coin, reduces the cost of exiting. If you do not like an album, there is not a $20 sunk cost compelling you to keep going. But you also do not need to spend $20 to experiment with something you are unsure if you will like.

New Music Streaming Bill Aims to Increase Streaming Royalties



U.S. House representatives Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman have introduced to Congress a new bill aiming to boost streaming royalties for artists. The Living Wage for Musicians Act would create a new payment system, the Artist Compensation Royalty Fund, that circumvents record labels and other intermediaries, funneling listeners’ money directly to artists. Tlaib said in a statement, “Streaming has changed the music industry, but it’s leaving countless artists struggling to make ends meet behind. It’s only right that the people who create the music we love get their fair share, so that they can thrive, not just survive.”

The funds would come from two sources: an added subscription fee (proposed as an extra half, with a $4 minimum and $10 maximum) and a 10 percent cut of streamers’ non-subscription revenue, from sources such as ads. The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) has long supported the bill, noting that streaming platforms are already planning price hikes, and the proposal ensures extra fees go to the artists themselves.

Pitchfork Folded Into GQ


Pitchfork is being folded into GQ:

Condé Nast is merging Pitchfork, the digital music publication it bought in 2015, with men’s magazine GQ — a move that will result in layoffs at Pitchfork, including the exit of editor-in-chief Puja Patel.

According to Wintour, “Both Pitchfork and GQ have unique and valuable ways that they approach music journalism, and we are excited for the new possibilities together.” She added with the organizational changes, “some of our Pitchfork colleagues will be leaving the company today.”

A rep for Condé Nast did not have information on how many Pitchfork staffers are being let go. Wintour’s memo about the Pitchfork changes was first reported by Semafor’s Max Tani.

The Untold Story of Elliott Smith’s Teenage Band

Elliott Smith


Back in 1985, Elliott Smith was just Steven Paul Smith, a shy new kid entering his sophomore year at Portland’s Lincoln High School. He soon befriended a small group of fellow music obsessives, and over the next four years, this tight-knit crew recorded six albums of original material. The songs on these records have a lot of… everything: sections, lyrics, time signatures, guitar solos, era-appropriate keyboard sounds. One track, 1986’s “Laughter,” crams more of all those things into its bulging nine minutes than most Rush albums do in their entire runtimes. These homemade epics were released on cassette and distributed locally—which meant that for a brief period in the mid-1980s, if you went to one of the band’s shows or frequented the right record store, you could buy one of these tapes and listen to it on your stereo. 

Decades later, when Smith was an acclaimed solo star giving interviews to major music publications, this idea seemingly kept him up at night. Whenever these recordings were mentioned, he dismissed them relentlessly. “I really promised myself a long time ago I would keep [them] from ever seeing the light of day,” he laughed when asked about his high school albums in 2003. He didn’t even want to share a band name with the interviewer for fear someone might “dredge it up.”

Well, someone has—or rather, the combined forces of fanbase curiosity and passing time have forced the recordings into light. Now, Elliott Smith diehards who know what to search for on YouTube can hear these records for themselves. Although judging by the videos’ current view counts, this music, made by a teenaged Smith with his friends, is still very much hiding in plain sight.


Paramore’s Influence Is All Around Us

Quinn Moreland, writing for Pitchfork:

Now, Paramore’s influence is being felt by a new group of artists navigating the turbulence of youth, when every heartbreak and setback can feel apocalyptic. Beyond Moriondo, the band’s sound and snarl can be heard in the gleeful middle finger that is Olivia Rodrigo’s No. 1 hit “good 4 u,” the Hot Topic thrash of Willow Smith’s “Transparent Soul,” the diaristic bliss of girl in red’s “Serotonin,” and Billie Eilish’s caustic eye-rolls. That these artists were an average of 5-and-a-half years old when Riot! was released only underscores Paramore’s staying power—and Williams’ role as a sage pop-punk den mother.

Who’s Going to Stop Spotify’s Viral Rap Impersonators?


Noah Yoo, writing for Pitchfork:

There’s a rapper on Spotify named Lil Kambo who’s racked up 2 million streams and counting on his song “Kid Carti.” This would be a significant feat for any unsigned, self-releasing artist in the modern day. The only problem is that “Lil Kambo” doesn’t exist and “Kid Carti” is a pitch-shifted leak of Playboi Carti’s yet-unreleased track “Kid Cudi” (previously referred to as “Pissy Pamper”), a song the rapper’s been teasing for some time and even playing out live. Lil Kambo isn’t a viral hit—he’s a fraudster.

Pitchfork Details the Best Albums of the ’80s


Pitchfork have put together a feature on the “200 best albums of the 1980s.”

Longtime readers may remember that, in 2002, we made a list of The Top 100 Albums of the 1980s. That list was shorter, sure, but it also represented a limited editorial stance we have worked hard to move past; its lack of diversity, both in album selections and contributing critics, does not represent the voice Pitchfork has become. For this new list, we gathered votes from more than 50 full-time staffers and regularly contributing writers to open up our discussion.

Why Indie Bands Go Major Label in the Streaming Era


Marc Hogan, writing at Pitchfork:

Scott Rodger, who manages Arcade Fire, Paul McCartney, and Shania Twain, points me to various artists’ pages on Spotify. Arcade Fire have 5 million monthly listeners on the streaming service. Radiohead have 6 million, while Grizzly Bear, the War on Drugs, and LCD Soundsystem all have more like 2 million. But Imagine Dragons, while critically scorned, have 30 million-plus. And the most popular artists right now, like “Despacito” hitmakers Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi, along with Ed Sheeran and Calvin Harris, have upwards of 40 million. “With the world moving towards streaming, most indie or alternative acts simply don’t stream as well,” Rodger says.

Pitchfork Launches Beer-Focused Website


Pitchfork have launched a new digital publication focused on beer. It’s called October:

A destination for devotees and novices alike to read about, learn about, and share their appreciation for beer and celebrate the culture around it. The site is being launched in partnership with ZX Ventures, AB InBev’s incubator and venture capital fund that focuses on increasing awareness and excitement around beer and brewing culture.

The web design is infuriating, but the writing seems to be of Pitchfork’s well-known style:

October aims to capture the spirit, ambition, and wort-soaked labor of the gambrinus pursuit — the making and drinking of the good life. Through essays, travels, events, and an objective look at what makes beer so damn good, our hope is that you’ll find resonance here, something of unusual quaffability, as part of the drinking class.