Participants at the SXSW Interactive Conference tend to fall into one of two camps: the independents and the paid. Industry heavyweights Simon Assaad and David Carson, founders of the irreverent Heavy.com
and such widely distributed enterprises as "Behind the Music that Sucks," definitely fall in with those who are paid. Still, the classic punk undertones of their work allow them a nearly subversive, totally noncorporate sheen. Take, for example, their American Suck Countdown, which shakes a fist at the music industry and self-absorbed artists alike. Or their recent obsession with dwarves. With the unusual success of their off-the-wall content, Assaad and Carson serve as mentors and gods to those independents who might like some cash for all their hard work. "We're certainly not averse to making money," Carson said at the duo's keynote conversation Monday, as if it were still 1999. "If that's bad, then fuck you." Granted, the Assaad/Carson pairing had some training that many independent webfolk can't claim: Assaad had experience as a filmmaker and Carson had a long résumé featuring stints at IBM and MTV. Their advice to the audience, though, was useful, if not slightly long on the financial jargon. "Heavy is a lifestyle brand that defines a certain kind of person," Assaad said. It also works as a clever two-sided business divided into content and service. Guess which is the one that makes all the money. "Wait, this is not the kind of language these people want to hear!" said moderator Heather Gold. But by the time Assaad confirmed that Heavy.com
burned at least $200,000 a month at its apex, every set of independent ears in the room wanted more.