This afternoon, the New York Times reported that Condé Nast is acquiring Pitchfork Media for an undisclosed sum, effectively immediately. This acquisition is probably a smart move for both parties; Pitchfork is banking on its long-term future by joining an elite family that includes Vogue, Vanity Fair, and The New Yorker, and will now get to enjoy the resources (read: dolla dolla bills ya'll) that this exclusive club brings. Meanwhile, Condé Nast gets to fatten its portfolio with its first music publication—one with a strong video department to boot, as well as a thriving live events business that includes festivals in Chicago and Paris.
The internet predictably exploded when this news broke. While most of the initial responses on social media was some variation of "whoa," a significant number fixated on a quote in the Times report uttered by Fred Santarpia, Condé Nast's chief digital officer, who led the acquisition. According to Santarpia, buying Pitchfork will bring "a very passionate audience of millennial males into [Condé Nast's] roster."
Some people were genuinely offended. Others just rolled their eyes. But most agreed that "millennial males" was a weirdly exclusionary way to categorize Pitchfork's core audience.
It's not that Pitchfork being sold to Condé Nast is bad, but it's troubling they think it's a publication read only by "millenial males."
— michelle buchman (@michelledeidre) October 13, 2015
for real there are a lot of great female writers who have written for p4k and the "millenial males" comment is a slap in the face
— AHHHH!dam Downer (@AdamEDowner) October 13, 2015
Within seconds, the procession of #millenialmales jokes starting rolling out on Twitter:
Binders full of millenial males
— DJ George Costanza (@George_Costanza) October 13, 2015
Band name idea: Millenial Males.(All female band.)
— Beauty Pill (@beautypill) October 13, 2015
"passionate millenial males in your area, looking to argue over who knew about the band Beirut first"
— Deaux (@dstfelix) October 13, 2015
a murder of crowsa pod of whalesa passionate audience of millenial males
— Shonen Jump Scare (@ICELEVEL) October 13, 2015
The media's coverage of the news followed suit, as many headlines focused on the offensive phrase to varying degrees of tongue-in-cheek: "Conde Nast Goes For Millennial Males with Pitchfork Purchase: Is It A Smart Move?" (Forbes); "Condé Nast Buys Pitchfork Media, Seeks 'Millennial Male' Demo" (Gothamist); "Conde Nast buys Pitchfork for its droves of "millennial male" readers" (Quartz), Condé Nast Buys "High-Value Millennial Male" Website Pitchfork for Undisclosed Sum (Gawker).
It's possible that Santarpia's quote was taken out of context—or that he was baited into it by the Times reporter. Without being present at the interview, we'll never know for sure. But how much truth is there to his statement? According to this month's QuantCast numbers, 82% of Pitchfork's readers are male, and 55% are between the ages of 18-34. So Santarpia isn't exactly wrong—in fact, he's pretty much on point.
What all the snarky faux-outrage really points towards is a rising awareness that the music industry needs to be less of a sausage party. Music journalist Jessica Hopper, who is (ironically) a senior editor at Pitchfork, won plenty of support for her book published this year titled The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, as well as a Twitter thread calling on people to share stories of sexual discrimination in the industry. Major pop stars across the spectrum—including Grimes, Bjork, Miley Cyrus, and most recently, Nicki Minaj—have all used their cover story real estate this year to call out sexism and double standards.
So maybe the #milennialmales backlash is actually a good thing, because it's giving us another chance to try and make music less of a boy's club… while also bequeathing us with this particularly glorious tweet:
you know what else has a passionate audience of millennial males? my butt
— monica heisey (@monicaheisey) October 13, 2015
Find Michelle Lhooq hollering at milennial males on Twitter