Notoriously snobby music blog Pitchfork launched its video service today, and while we’re still a little skeptical about how big Pitchfork’s audience will ever become, this new addition to the site is actually pretty cool. Pitchfork would probably give it a 6.
Unlike YouTube, Pitchfork isn’t trying to be the sole source of all your music video needs. It’s a heavily curated site catering to the T-shirt-wearing, black-rimmed-glasses set. If you have to ask who The Thermals are, Pitchfork would probably sneer at you and suggest that you hop back in your SUV and stick with those Maroon 5 MP3s you packed your iPod with.
Of course, it’s not all obscure bands. Pitchfork nabbed Radiohead to do a special live performance vid for the site’s launch. And there are music videos from groups that you have heard of, including The Chemical Brothers, The Shins, and The Arcade Fire. Even if most of the bands are unfamiliar, Pitchfork does have good taste in music, and you’re bound to discover something new that you’ll like.
The site also plans to stream full-length, music-related films, kicking off that section with the Pixies documentary loudQUIETloud (for one week only).
There are some issues with the site. Most of the videos are not embeddable (probably a rights issue), and the navigation is pretty crappy — it’s not easy to go back to something you liked, and clicking on options like “permalink” take you to an entirely new page. Additionally, the way it organizes music videos doesn’t look very scalable. Right now videos can be listed by just added, most viewed and alphabetical. I know the site doesn’t want to have every video ever made, but even if it offers just 500 videos, searching through them needs to be a better experience.
Pitchfork is also bucking the HD trend and just offers a “high-quality” video experience. Unfortunately, if you toggle between the high and low settings, the video starts back from the beginning.
Right now, Pitchfork.tv has a very small, intimate feel, which is best because the company would never want to be perceived as big and corporate. But as it has to start paying for all this video bandwidth, it will need to make adjustments (and add advertising) to remain viable. (Will it have to take on Chevy as an advertiser, or does American Apparel make pre-rolls?)