Indian Motorcycle radio?

A café/bar/retail shop might fit the brand, but an Indian Motorcycle online radio channel? It easily drives back to the brand's heritage through innovation, according to Mike Elwood, co-owner of the Toronto-based company. In 1900, the founders of the company, bicycle...

A café/bar/retail shop might fit the brand, but an Indian Motorcycle online radio channel? It easily drives back to the brand’s heritage through innovation, according to Mike Elwood, co-owner of the Toronto-based company. In 1900, the founders of the company, bicycle racer George M. Hendee and engineer Carl Oscar Hedstrom, invented the world’s first motorcycle when they combined a bicycle with an engine. Elwood hopes to continue to push the envelope technologically. ‘It gives us a point of difference,’ he points out. ‘Indian Motorcycle is about design and art…If you’re true to the ingredients, you could extend wherever you want.’

Even to online radio? It stems nicely from the café and lounge, also about ‘music and atmosphere,’ explains Elwood. Set to hit cyber airwaves in mid-June, the listening station will reflect the quality of Indian Motorcycle. For instance, the site will only feature vintage, classic musicians such as Johnny Cash. ‘It will play the characteristics of the brand: classic, quality, forever music with soul,’ explains Elwood, who is reluctant to give too many details about the format.

The station, which will cost about $10,000 a month to operate, will act as a marketing tool to drive people back to the brand, as well as increase awareness, but Elwood does expect an ROI eventually. He won’t specify what his revenue channels will be, except to describe them as ‘non-traditional.’

In the meantime, his target – innovators and early adopters – will appreciate an online radio station because they believe ‘it’s okay to think differently.’ In fact, Elwood expects 25% of his market to be shopping in cyberspace soon. The station, he says, is just the start, and he hopes to follow it up with a unique, interactive online store. ‘Customers will have one-on-one contact [with Indian Motorcycle] on the Net,’ he says. ‘By the time the industry catches up, I will have already tweaked everything.’

But Indian Motorcycle will travel down a tough road, especially if it plans to compete with the likes of online radio channel Sonicnet.com, according to Greg Skinner, principal of youth marketing consultancy Mina, Toronto. ‘To host a Web site and constantly deliver new and compelling programming is a lot of work. I’m not sure it’s worth it.’ It all depends what else Elwood has up his sleeve. LD