Condé Nast Buys Pitchfork

The New York Times reports that publishing company Condé Nast has purchased Chicago- and Brooklyn-based music website Pitchfork Media for an undisclosed sum. The sale brings one of the most influential publications of the internet era into a stable that also includes longstanding print titles such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, Wired, and The New Yorker.

According to the Times, Condé Nast’s chief digital officer Fred Santarpia said the acquisition brings “a very passionate audience of millennial males into our roster.” Meanwhile, Condé Nast’s chief executive Bob Sauerberg said in an email to his staff that the sale “reinforces our commitment to building Condé Nast’s premium digital network, focusing on distinctive editorial voices and engaging high-value millennial audiences.” Pitchfork founder and chief executive Ryan Schreiber, who began the site in 1996, had this to say about the sale:

Pitchfork is incredibly fortunate to have found in Condé Nast a team of people who share our commitment to editorial excellence. Their belief in what we do, combined with their additional expertise and resources, will allow us to extend our coverage of the artists and stories that shape the music landscape on every platform.

The sale includes all Pitchfork properties including quarterly print magazine The Pitchfork Review and the Chicago and Paris editions of the Pitchfork Music Festival. Here is Condé Nast’s press release about the transaction via Poynter’s Ben Mullin:

And here is Pitchfork’s announcement:

We have some very exciting news: Pitchfork has been acquired by Condé Nast, the media company that owns Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, GQ, and Wired, among many other esteemed editorial brands, and we’re honored to join their family.

This is an extraordinary moment for us. In February, Pitchfork will celebrate its 20th birthday. We launched in 1996, when online magazines barely existed, and the internet’s potential as a publishing platform was just becoming clear. Gradually, Pitchfork’s readership increased, and so did the scope of our coverage. We opened additional sections, providing a home for both emerging and seasoned voices. We started a music festival in Chicago, and another in Paris. We introduced video programming to the site in 2008, and ventured into the world of print with The Pitchfork Review in 2013. Each of these endeavors are now integral components of Pitchfork, and with Condé Nast’s experience and resources, all of them will have greater opportunities to grow and flourish.

Condé Nast believes, as we do, that Pitchfork has built an editorial voice that stands strongly alongside its others, and that the integrity of that voice— and our opinions— are fundamental to our identity. We’re incredibly fortunate to have found in Condé Nast a group of people who share every aspect of our focus. Their 100+ years of experience in building brands marked by editorial integrity makes them a natural fit for Pitchfork, and their belief in what we do, combined with their additional expertise, will allow us to extend our coverage across all platforms while remaining true to the ideals that have made Pitchfork the most trusted voice in music.

Thanks for reading; we’re excited to share what’s to come.

UPDATE: Schreiber adds this comment regarding Santarpia’s description of Pitchfork’s audience as “a very passionate audience of millennial males”:

UPDATE 2: Schreiber gave Variety some background about the sale: Talks began a year ago when Condé Nast approached Pitchfork about being part of their video platform the Scene and snowballed from there when “it became increasingly clear that we had a lot of things in common.” Schreiber and Pitchfork president Chris Kaskie were the only owners of the company, and this sale represents the first ever influx of outside money. Pitchfork has no plans to move out of its Brooklyn offices into Condé Nast’s headquarters in lower Manhattan “at least for the next year,” though Schreiber did make a comment that could be construed as a hint at future Pitchfork offices in Los Angeles and Miami:

I like following where things are happening. Now I’m splitting my time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn. And Miami has a really interesting and vibrant music scene that is making some waves. There’s a really cool grassroots thing happening there.

He also talked about the likely prospect of adding another festival and making it different from the already established Chicago and Paris events:

There are a lot of different ideas about where to do something else and how we might do something different than the other festivals that we’ve done. It’s something that is very much in the cards but we haven’t made any firm decisions on what the next city might be.

Read the full interview here.

Tags: Pitchfork