Pitchfork Media, the hipper-than-thou music site, may still consider itself too cool to bother reviewing the occasional over-hyped indie rock album. But the Chicago-based indie empire has opted to let the folks at Fader Media into its exclusive club, via a new strategic content and ad sales partnership.
The emerging music and culture brands are joining forces for an extensive advertising and sponsorship relationship across print, online, festivals, events and unique content exchanges. Each company will keep its ad sales and editorial teams intact, so Fader and Pitchfork will be friends, maybe friends with benefits, but definitely not together.
Fader Media is an independent music and culture company that includes Fader magazine, Thefader.com, music networking site The TripWire and music downloading site Rcrd Lbl.
Joining forces makes sense
Together, Fader Media’s print and online properties reach an audience of 1.3 million, so the opportunity to join forces with Pitchfork’s 1.6 million unique users and 16 million monthly page views (not to mention Pitchfork’s annual Lollapalooza-esque summer music festival in Chicago) makes perfect sense when it comes to selling advertisers a combined audience.
But there’s potential for an even broader cross-pollination, in which the two brands share content while maintaining their own editorial voice. “The lifespans of Pitchfork and Fader have run sort of parallel lines, one path online the other with a print base,” said Chris Kaskie, Pitchfork’s publisher-chief operating officer. “The goal for us is to figure out the crossover where it makes perfect sense from a partnership standpoint, to see where all our extremely loyal readers can be coupled with Fader’s and what we can offer them in return.”
Andy Cohn, group publisher-VP of Fader Media, said the combination of the two indie brands makes particular sense in a publishing market that can no longer support fragmentation. “It’s a way for us to overcome the niche kind of moniker, even though obviously we both have decent readerships and viewerships,” he said. “Where a big brand might say, ‘You guys are too niche,’ or ‘You’re just a print magazine,’ now we’re able to walk into a Levi’s or a Nike and say, ‘Look at all we have on the table.'”
Shared ad clients
Pitchfork and Fader already share some ad clients such as Southern Comfort, which sponsors a co-branded web feature, “The 7″ Series,” on Thefader.com as well as a short-form docu-series, “SoCo Music Experience,” on Pitchfork.tv. Mr. Kaskie said the companies’ respective sales forces will remain separate, but will communicate with each other on a regular basis to identify shared opportunities.
“We want to drive revenue without losing the traditional ad banners and traditional ad pages, and still be able to do that without selling out the brands,” Mr. Cohn added. “Partnering with brands like Southern Comfort helps keep that content minimally branded.”
But even though Fader is now a preferred partner, Pitchfork will still keep its acid tongue planted firmly in cheek when it comes to its new business brethren. “We’ll still make fun of a Fader story from time to time, and we expect they’ll do the same with us,” Mr. Kaskie said.
Download the 10th Anniversary Issue (#68) as a .pdf here.