"hmmm" or "slippery slopes"
DeRogatis: Are you concerned at all that this could undermine what’s been Pitchfork’s main claim to fame: rock criticism? I’m thinking of a scenario where Pitchfork gives a band a rating of 2.0 or less, and yet 100,000 people click on it that day and love the video. And at the same time, a band that Pitchfork gives a 9.4, nobody likes or watches.
Schreiber: I don’t know, I think we have a little more confidence in how it’s going to work than that. I mean, for one thing, we’re being pretty selective about the videos we’re showing; we’re not just putting up any old thing. So if there’s something that we actively dislike, it’s probably not going to show up on Pitchfork.tv. That’s not to say that if an album gets a negative rating, that there’s not a really good song on that record that might get played a lot. But it’s a different thing, because you’re talking about individual songs versus full-length albums, and those two things are very different.
It doesn't help that a lot of Schreiber's answers are "I don't know." I don't know exactly why this bothers me, other than the basic and personal bitch that I think Pitchfork frequently gets it wrong, even that a fair amount of their reviewers look for the wrong things in a record, and that they claim to be fostering a kind of independence but their favorites usually boil down to types. I've said this before, but most of the records they dislike that are worth investigating don't easily fit into one box and the low rating seems to represent their frustration at pinning it down rather than the actual quality of what it's doing. End rant.
But as a business, something disturbs me greatly about the prospect of pitchfork.tv essentially being a YouTube for cool kids with all the questionable content filtered out. My friend Jonathan Bradley has doubts it'll last; I most certainly don't. DeRogatis really hits the nail on the head about journalistic integrity, but (and I swear this isn't an insult) I've never felt that was something P4k held in the highest regard. Not that they don't have journalistic integrity, but that the Object of the Game seemed to be to push as much DIY content as they could. Which is fine! But the actions they've taken have always been more akin to a mouthy, small-time record label, like a Matador or Sub Pop at the head of the 90s, relentlessly promoting and posting about the 12 bands of the year that you Need to Know. I've never thought it made for good credibility as critics. This is mostly speaking of Schreiber, of course, who has stated that he barely writes reviews anymore and obviously takes more active enjoyment in promoting bands he loves rather than placing them up against an objective rubric.
Ironically, this TV venture could be great: Pitchfork's greatest contributions to this century mostly have to do with the quickness of their multimedia content, the blur of news, videos and new singles they make available quickly and daily. And it could also ruin them as a critical powerhouse. But more likely it will make them Rolling Stone; this is the best case scenario, because someone else may start up a Pitchfork alternative for the readers fed up with the complacency. Though they have an advantage that Rolling Stone didn't in 1996: Rolling Stone was easier for Schreiber to chuck because he only had to cancel his subscription; they didn't give it away for free. And what sap turns down free? If I was Barry Schwartz (or at least feeling sly), I might expound on the similiarities between Pitchfork and the free stress tests I'm offered in the subway.