Rock Kingpin Launches Blink Music Management

Steve Simms draws on 30 years' experience in the rock and metal scene to help emerging acts achieve success

The dawning of the new year heralded the arrival of a new force on the Northern Ireland rock and metal scene – Blink Music Management, a company dedicated to giving a professional boost to the industry.

The man behind it, Steve Simms, can count back almost three decades to his first involvement in the Northern Irish music business, playing guitar with his first band, Abandon, at venues like the Rosetta in Belfast.

Having, like many rockers of that era, been forced to put music to one side in order to pay the bills, circumstances eventually conspired to bring Simms him back into the game. Aspiring rock acts, walk this way...

What made you want to launch Blink Music Management at the beginning of 2013?

I had worked as a manager for a construction company for 20 years which, due to the economic downturn, went bust in late autumn 2012. It gave me some free time to actually think about what I wanted to do next in my life. Music and management was the top of my list.

You’ve already signed three of the most prominent acts on the Northern Ireland rock and metal scene – Ajenda, Stormzone and Worldsend. How did these signings come about?

All three signings came about quite differently. I had been taking an interest in Ajenda for a long time, with the idea of shopping them out to some of my contacts overseas and, as this progressed, it just seemed right for the band to sign with Blink when I had established the new company.

With Worldsend, I had the chance to work as tour manager on their recent UK tour with Little Angels. With that going so well, it was obvious that together we made a good team. We decided to make it a permanent arrangement and Worldsend became my first signing to Blink Music Management.

Stormzone approached me around a month or so ago about considering them. The band’s three-year deal with Jess Cox (former lead singer with Tygers of Pan Tang) had just come to an end, and the guys were looking for a different perspective moving forward. We had a couple of great meetings and agreed a fully exclusive two-year deal.

They are three bands with very different styles. Is that diversity deliberate on your part?

I believe that those three bands are at the top of their prospective genres in this country, but it was a coincidence that they are all so different. Although I do see Blink as being diverse musically, it will always be aimed at the rock genres, because that’s where I feel most comfortable.

You come from a musical background yourself, having played in several bands over the years. Does that experience give you a more sympathetic approach to the management side of the business?

I think the opposite, actually. I have been playing in bands since the early 1980s and have had many 'almosts'. I've learnt that, for the very, very many, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s important that bands understand that as quickly as possible so that they can make decisions as to what they want from the industry. When they know that, then I can work out the best way for them to achieve it.

What qualities do you look for when considering signing new acts?

A band who are confident and talented, willing to work hard, who have some grasp on where they are and where they want to be, and who understand that there is no quick fix to success.

Are you restricting yourself to Northern Irish bands?

Absolutely not. At present I am currently in talks with a band from London and a band from Finland.

Tell us a little about Helfast, your forthcoming rock festival.

Helfast is a one-day mini rock/metal festival taking place on June 1 at Limelight 2 in Belfast. I wanted to put together a gig to showcase the best of what we have to offer here in Northern Ireland, and hope to have some industry people there to have a look at the bands on show.

I think it’s essential that we all work together on projects like this. The rock and metal scene in Northern Ireland is already loaded with promoters putting on shows all the time. So we teamed up with PR agency Paradise City and The Distortion Project to put a show on that was not going to squeeze an already packed scene.

We have a fantastic team, a management company, PR company and promotion company all working together. And six great bands. All the ingredients are there for a fantastic show, one I hope we can expand in the future.

You have some seriously heavyweight connections in the business, in London and Los Angeles et cetera. Has that helped in promoting your current acts?

It has indeed. Being based in Northern Ireland would bring major problems to running a music-based management company if it wasn’t for contacts. Luckily, I count a few of the biggest names in the music world as very close friends. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be putting together a fantastic opportunity for bands outside of the metal scene. But that's all I can say about that for now...

What else can we look forward to regarding Blink Music Management?

I am currently setting up some ‘paid for’ services, which Blink will be offering in due course. This info will be on our website, which is being constructed at the minute. Blink will be offering fully exclusive, non-exclusive and pay-to-work contracts, as well as music consultancy. So there is a lot of scope for many bands to be part of the company, depending on their situation.

If you’re in a band and wish to contact Steve, you can email or check him out on Facebook or Twitter. Helfast ’13 takes place at Limelight 2, Belfast, on Saturday June 1.