French-based music innovation company Joué has been selected for its first-ever CES Innovation Award, thanks to its elegant and tech-savvy Joué Play instrument. The Play aims to democratize music creation via engaging interfaces and a user-friendly app. Joué instruments start with a sleek, lightweight base, the Board, and then layer silicone Pads reminiscent of keyboards and fretboards, modules that can be switched out easily. Musicians can make a beat, add a deep pad sound, then switch to a distorted guitar solo in a snap. Easy to carry in a backpack, Joué Play allows creators to make music, jam with friends, practice on the road, or just have fun anywhere.
In a conversation with Pascal Joguet, founder of Joué, we discussed the future of his company, the success of the Play at CES, and his plans for bringing his instrument into the US market.
Your music-based app and instrument combination is reimagining the way music can be made. Give us some background as to why this product was made and what problem it is looking to solve?
We wanted to create an instrument that sparked the same kind of curiosity as a new instrument you’ve never seen before but would feel as accessible and engaging as a game controller. Our goal was to help everyone make music, to really enable anyone to express themselves with sound, no matter what their experience level. Joué Play is the first real accessible digital instrument music creation tool. It means that no technical skills are required to play with them. It’s really a musical instrument for everyone, not only geeks.
One of the first steps was coming up with innovative hardware, the silicone Pads, and the Board concept that we use for Joué’s instruments. I really wanted to do what most musicians, audio engineers, and DJs do when they work on music, to go by touch and use both hands to shape the sound. I wanted it to feel really different from clicking a mouse or tapping a screen, but for many years, the hardware just wasn’t there. The idea percolated for a while, as technology gradually caught up to this vision.
We ended up creating a series of modular, fun instruments that are plug-and-play yet nuanced enough for pros. We also insisted they be beautiful, with natural materials, and sustainable. To keep the focus on this physical object, on the instrument, we built an app to complement it. It’s very uncluttered and just lets you create, without a lot of complicated interfaces. The point, after all, is to make music, not learn a bunch of software.
The product is selling really well in the French market. Can you give us some insight as to why your team is looking into the US as the next market to break the product in?
We believe this approach is critical for our next phase of development. So far, Joué has been an amazing story of entrepreneurship and building a company with little resources focused on making a great product. Now we need to aim higher to mobilize resources and reach our next phase in development.
For example, we are expanding to the consumer market for aspiring musicians, whereas our product was mostly focused on professional musicians in the past. We believe that establishing ourselves in the US will enable us to reach a larger audience and find all those emerging creators who will really love using Joué instruments to make music.
To find these creators, we’re using an approach that goes beyond traditional marketing for a music product or instrument, and it incorporates some R&D and crowdsourcing, too. We strongly believe that the traditional ad business isn’t the right channel for products like ours and we need to appeal to influencers, people willing to try our product and offer helpful feedback. Our modular product enables us, for example, to create new pads for instruments or effects, and we’d love to hear what American creators want next.
For the artists and managers out there, is your product open to doing brand partnerships with emerging acts who use your product? If so, how could they pitch you?
Yes, we are creating a brand ambassador team in the U.S., and have a PR representative handling their interest. We have ambassadors in France already (Senbei and Rone) and are more interested in expanding our North American audience. Our goal is to have a team of 10 influencers that are popular on various social platforms such as Instagram, Twitch, Tik Tok, and YouTube. Interested influencers can email Ali Scott at email@example.com with the subject line ‘Joue brand ambassador team’.