Pretty Lights' Ingenious Business Plan: Give Away Your Entire Catalog Online


Actually, I'm not being sarcastic. Instead of trying to frantically chase down links to illegal downloads of his records, Derek Vincent Smith pre-empted his music-thieving fans and simply offered his entire catalog up on his website for free as zip files. The Ray Bradbury of electronica, Smith performs under the puzzlingly misleading moniker Pretty Lights, which sounds more like the name of an annoying twee pop band than a badass producer of sci-fi beats for the indie set.

Obviously, artists giving away their own music online isn't exactly novel, but it is if you're an artist who can charge $25 per ticket, which is how much entry to Friday night's Pretty Lights show at Showbox SODO (it's all ages) costs. This strategy might not work for everyone (particularly ASCAP), but Smith's business plan can work for him because it's backed up by fantastic art. If his music is good enough, it will lure the masses to spend the money they didn't spend on your albums for shows and merch, which is where the real money's at anyway. And believe me, you want to attend this show. Smith's instrumental productions -- though there are some vocal snippets from hip-hop samples in the tradition of Greg Gillis are too glitchy to call hip-hop, and like Gillis or Ratatat, Smith's music is electronica for pop fans. His latest release, an EP called Glowing in the Darkest Night that came out October 22, is as club-worthy as the rest -- and it's definitely worth picking up before Pretty Lights' show tomorrow.

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