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Beat Diet: Pretty Lights

Although a few established acts have dabbled in the free download game—Radiohead and NIN are obvious examples—Pretty Lights' Derek Vincent Smith built his entire career that way--from the ground up. The Fort Collins-based producer is practically in a league of his own. Name one other artist who hasn't made a single penny on recorded music and is now capable of packing Red Rocks--a feat Smith is reprising this Saturday. It is a trajectory that many will inevitably imitate. Girl Talk might his only near-peer--business model-wise--but unless Crickets Chirping is the alias of a band not yet on my radar, the answer is clear....

Aural Pleasure: Mickey Avalon

Mickey Avalon started slinging herb for his mom at the tender, albeit superstitiously unlucky age of thirteen. Although it sounds eerily similar to a plot-line from the brilliantly twisted Showtime dramedy Weeds, art has since imitated life (and not vice versa). When Avalon took the dreaded gateway drug route, though, she cut him off. Translation: mommy fired his @$$ for graduating to smack. Mickey ended up turning tricks for dope in his most desperate years. These days, he turns phrases for dough. And now his old lady works for him…as one of his managers....