Siya Metane, well-known in the music industry as Slikour, has a heart for music and a head for business. He’s passed through numerous rites of passage – some hard, some disheartening, some positive – but all adding to the skills and insight of a man building new digital platforms for companies to build their brands on.
Metane, now 35 years old, has a theory that it was his very passion for music that swept him along the complex pathways of his life to where he is today. There was no plan, he says, but there was a deep sense that conforming to expectations for his life would suffocate him. He tried for a while, completing matric and studying computer engineering. He gave it up due to lack of funds and, with a home-built studio put together with contributions from friends and family, he made music, but felt he was on a road to nowhere. There was music but no growth – and seemingly no future.
Then the renowned hip hop group Skwatta Kamp came together – making music in Metane’s mother’s house – and in 2002 their first album was released. The group produced three more albums winning numerous awards for their work, including two SAMA awards for the best rap album and a Channel O best hip hop music video award, until they went their separate ways in 2006.
Siya came home “with the first R100 000 I made from music – it was a fortune to me!” His father convinced Siya to invest in his taxi business – and his first business negotiation happened, setting the tone for astute business acumen and management in his future. While other areas in his life progressed, the taxi business continued to grow and provide a sound backstop when he took risks and left the more traditional paths to financial stability.
In 2006 Metane and a partner started a music agency. “We didn’t know what an agency was meant to do – our knowledge was limited; I had picked up some marketing basics from a Coca-Cola Integrated Marketing Communications programme, but we were passionate, and that made a difference.”
This venture provided a stepping stone for Metane to partner with largescale agency RE now called Openfield Joburg working with Billy Lascaris, son of renowned adman Reg Lascaris, to provide insight into relevant markets. His knowledge and understanding grew and he learned a lot from MD of Openfield Franco Barocas, which creates and amplifies “emotional experiences to achieve brand objectives” using sponsorship, brand experiences, and CSI.
Metane had a different vision though – and it was digital. He opted to part ways with Openfield and set off on his own, not knowing “who’s going to believe a guy with no qualifications and big talk!” It was a risk; he now had a family to take care of, but he did still have the taxi business to bring in some income.
He immersed himself in the business of building his digital platform for news and videos from the music industry – but struggled with the commercial aspect of his vision. “I knew that content was in hand, but that a commercial strategy was key to the platform.” Metane established SlikourOnLife, a platform for sharing information on urban culture and music, featuring videos and interviews to give substance to the music and to musicians who may not have access to traditional platforms, and offering a more cohesive and accessible place for their videos than YouTube. Coupled with SlikourOnLife is OnLife Store, which sells music, concert tickets, and merchandise. The website SoulCandi, which essentially promotes House music, was also brought on board.
Metane is now taking this concept further, and with new investors, is creating OnLife Networks, which he describes as, “an approachable platform, a place for brands to have the power, where stories are told, and which creates inventory for clients to buy. We’re creating communities that brands can plug into authentically. We’re selling what no digital agency can sell – we’re selling the truth, the culture, and we’re bringing worlds together. We create the space where talk moves from content to the brands, and we have the analytics to determine the return on investment by brands on the platform.”
Metane’s passion for music is ever the driver behind his astute and innovative business initiatives, and he thrives in the world that gives brands a voice to tell the bigger story. He is also a family man and he and has a six-year-old son. Yes, there are interests beyond music, there are movies and there is family, but “I try to keep it simple – don’t try to add too many spices to your life, your stomach gets into trouble.”