Pretty Lights

Derek Smith, better known as electronic artist Pretty Lights, dropped out of the University of Colorado at Boulder his freshman year to concentrate on writing and producing music. Before long, he was headlining his own club tour and supporting acts like Big Boi, The Glitch Mob, and STS9.

By 2009, Pretty Lights was quickly becoming the talk of such major festivals as Bonnaroo, Rothbury and Electric Daisy Carnival, and touring smaller venues as a headlining performer.

Photo: John Davisson

At one of those stops, in Knoxville, Tenn., he met Progressive Global Agency’s Hunter Williams, who had become a fan based on what he’d heard online – music that Pretty Lights doesn’t sell, but gives away.

“I knew I had to go see this guy,” Williams told Pollstar. “I went to the World Grotto with like 200, 250 kids and it blew my mind what he was doing. I sent him a proposal and we started working together.”

Pretty Lights isn’t like most artists that usually grace our cover, nor is he even like most artists in the electronic genre. He’s building a culture among his fan base, Williams says, by giving away all of his music, presenting all original production, writing one-night-only tracks and keeping ticket prices extremely accessible.

“In touring, he brings top-notch, next-level production whether it’s tours or festivals,” Williams said. “Every gig we play, we bring our own production. It sets him apart. We’re always working on creating new content for video and keeping it above par.

“He creates unique tracks for special shows. For our Halloween show he produced a track just for that date. He did a remix of ‘Final Countdown’ for New Year’s Eve. You can expect to hear something pretty special if you come to one of our shows. A DJ group can go out and play a different set every night and that’s one thing, but everything he does is original and it’s a little tougher to achieve that.”

Photo: John Davisson

Pretty Lights is touring Australia in November and he’ll ring out 2011 with two shows at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. A new recording is in the works, followed by an extensive tour next year.