Condé Nast Exec Says Acquisition Won’t Change Pitchfork’s Voice

Condé Nast, publisher of magazines including The New Yorker and Wired, announced earlier today that it has acquired Pitchfork Media.

You might not be a Pitchfork reader yourself, but the site has become a cultural force — fairly or not, it’s known as the standard bearer for hipster/indie music. (It’s also a site that I visited regularly, back when I actually cared about having semi-cool taste in music.) Condé Nast Pitchfork reaches 6 million unique visitors each month.

Fred Santarpia, who’s chief digital officer at Condé Nast, said the two companies began talking “a bit less than a year ago.” Initially, those discussions focused on a potential partnership, not an acquisition, but he said they realized that they were “very aligned in how we look at the marketplace.” In particular, he said that with all the content competing for readers’ attention, editorial voice has become an increasingly important way to stand out.

“Pitchfork is a 20-year-old brand and one of the leading editorial voices in music journalism,” Santarpia said. “With the DNA at Condé Nast, our commitment to editorial excellence, culturally we were a very good fit.”

He also saw significant business opportunities, with Pitchfork’s engaged audience, its growing video efforts and its profitable events business (it’s held Pitchfork Musical Festivals in Chicago and Paris).

Moving forward, Santarpia said Pitchfork will “operate like any other brand at Condé Nast.” The team will “continue to run their business,” though Condé Nast will also be looking for ways it can “help them accelerate.” He added that from an editorial perspective, readers shouldn’t see any big changes.

“We’re big fans of [founder and CEO Ryan Schrieber and President Chris Kaskie] and the team here,” Santarpia said. “We’d expect that team to remain intact.”

Asked whether the talks played any role in Pitchfork’s decision to shutter its movie site The Dissolve a few months ago, he replied, “No. That was a decision that was made before the acquisition.”

Condé Nast has acquired websites before, including Reddit, which later spun out with a stake from Condé Nast owner Advance Publications. Santarpia said he remains open to other acquisitions in the future, saying they’re “always a tool in the tool belt for growth.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.