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Crowds cheer Mdou Moctar at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park in 2023.

Crowds cheer Mdou Moctar at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park in 2023.

Anthony Vazquez

Pitchfork hit by layoffs, downgrade, but music festival will continue

Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival will go on despite a dramatic downgrade of its namesake website, the influential news and reviews outlet Pitchfork.

Pitchfork’s owner, media empire Condé Nast, said Wednesday it has folded the brand into GQ, another title at the company.

“This decision was made after a careful evaluation of Pitchfork’s performance and what we believe is the best path forward for the brand so that our coverage of music can continue to thrive within the company,” Condé Nast chief content officer Anna Wintour wrote in a memo to staff.

Several Pitchfork staffers posted that they were laid off in the transition. Wintour’s memo specifically noted the departure of editor-in-chief Puja Patel, calling her “a wonderful colleague and advocate for the brand.”

The Pitchfork website will continue to exist and publish new content, a Condé Nast spokesman confirmed. And planning continues for the next Chicago edition of the Pitchfork Music Festival, curated by a team that takes cues from the website’s famous 0-10 ratings.

The fest has been a summer fixture in Chicago since 2005, when it launched under the name Intonation Festival. Over the years Pitchfork has presented such prominent names as Bjork, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Brian Wilson, Solange and Ms. Lauryn Hill.

Dates and headliners for this year’s Chicago blowout have not been announced, but Pitchfork is selling tickets for a Mexico City fest planned for March 6-9.

Founded by Ryan Schreiber in 1996, Pitchfork was sold to its current owner in 2015. At the time, Schreiber said the company would have “greater opportunities to grow and flourish” thanks to Condé Nast’s experience and resources.

Schreiber, who left Pitchfork in 2019, tweeted Wednesday that he was “extremely saddened” by the new restructuring and layoffs.

The Pitchfork editorial team was based in Chicago until consolidating at Condé Nast’s New York headquarters several years ago.

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