Rudess Joins CME As Chief Musical Officer

Jordan_Paster-01CME (creator of the XKey multitouch controller) has announced that Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Wizdom Music) has accepted the position of Chief Musical Officer at the company.

According to CME, Jordan (right) will be involved in new product planning and development.

“I am every excited to announce my new position as Chief Music Officer of CME,” says Jordan. “Creating next generation instruments has been a passion of mine for a long time.”

Rudess adds, “The Xkey is awesome. It’s incredibly thin and light and I can take it everywhere I go! It fits into my carry on bags when I’m on tour. I love that I can plug it into my iPad, or my iPhone directly. I’m very excited about this opportunity to work with CME!”

Here’s a video from Rudess on the announcement:

60 thoughts on “Rudess Joins CME As Chief Musical Officer

  1. Jordan should stick to playing the keyboard and not endorsing everything under the sun. Doing so just makes him look like a freeloading idiot, regardless of whether that is the case or not.

  2. I don’t get the hate. Xkey is looking like a real winner, and this seems right up JR’s alley, too. The way he plays, they should know rather quickly if their prototype’s crap or not. I see this a potential win.

  3. I am fairly certain Rudess would endorse a literal pile of horse manure if someone paid him to do it. He has replaced and surpassed BT as “Music guy who endorses so many products, his endorsement becomes essentially meaningless.”

    1. I had to look that one up. I did not know who BT is. Now that I do… I find I wasted another five minutes of my life in trivial pursuit.

  4. who is this guy .. why do we see him everywhere.. why does he have that weird chin furniture, and has he ever made music with a snare rush and hands to the heaven in it followed by a euphoric pad that requires lasers to be fully appreciated.. if not.. then please Jordan .. bubble back under..

  5. I have to say; his dexterity with those octave buttons is pretty damned amazing. That was the only thing positive I could think of.

    1. Good octave button technique is essential for tiny keyboards. That said, it does look like he going to crush that flimsy thing out of existence as well..

  6. LOL: my comment/point has already been made by others, but my first reaction was … so what, now you won’t be a whore for all of CME’s competitors? I know it’s a great way to get free stuff by doing demo videos for the companies, but really…. the guy is EVERYWHERE, and not sure WHAT he’s going to bring to CME. Hopefully, as another person said, a poly-AT real controller keyboard would be the bomb, and all would be forgiven. I keep expecting him to be the next SHAM WOW spokesperson or something. Great chops, and nice guy, but “over exposed” will show his photo in the music biz dictionary, without a doubt.

  7. Because Rudess has “chops” (certainly miles beyond me), he can make a mediocre keyboard sound good.

    It isn’t clear whether he has used his clout in the industry to help move technology forward (especially, in terms of improving the expressiveness of keyboards). I think he has made impressive demonstrations of skills on poorly executed non-standard controllers. But given CME’s mediocre designs, I’m really hoping they take their mission more seriously than they have.

  8. Maybe this will be the first Mainland Chinese company to break it into the Western mainstream…at least for music instrument products? I believe the Mainlanders are looking for the coveted global brand.

  9. Damn, too much auto-hate goin’ on up in HERE. I’ve used an XKey since last December and its neither a toy nor junk by a long shot. While I find the pitch-bend buttons and modulation button to have no usable delicacy like wheels or a stick, the octave-switch and sustain buttons have been solid so far. Those are more crucial to me. It also triggers super-fast, so its killer for synth leads, drums and horns. The keys are a bit noisy, but its not notably intrusive. The aluminum body has the ideal heft, so it doesn’t move when played with some oomph. The poly-pressure really does work as advertised, because each key is independently mounted. I’m still gauging how long it’ll work before it croaks, because I bang on it part of the time like an MPC, but so far, its been a surprising pleasure to play. They’re going to release a 3-octave version and I’ll probably go for it. I won’t give up my standard keyboards, but this thing has made me more of a believer in alternate controllers.

  10. Why isn’t he resting the XKEY on the desk? Makes no sense to show a product you are endorsing sitting on other gear so that it’s bobbing around and moving like a bucking bronco while you are playing it!.

  11. Gee, and I thought I was the only one who had overdosed on JR videos! Glad (sort of) to see that I’m not alone! (Of course, I’m still insanely jealous of his talent!)

  12. Dear all,

    I am the CEO of CME, first I want to say big thanks to Synthtopia for posting our press release, so that more musicians will know our cooperation with Jordan and also know our Xkey, we really really appreciate!

    Regarding this cooperation, I do not understand why people like to talk bad to Jordan, in our heart he is the most respected benefactor for all small start-up companies in music industry. Just like Bob said above, most of new brands were found by “poor-man”, like Coninuum Fingerboard, TouchKeys, Zeniriffer, NuMotion, and CME etc., we are “poor” company try to make money from “poor” musicians (compare to other rich people) but still want to be innovative like Apple and Google, because we believe we can improve our “poor” music industry together.

    Keyboardist never makes big money like singer, singer never makes big money like Internet Big Guy, Internet Big Guy never makes big money like banker…why so many people still stay in music industry and keep doing hard job? Because we just love it! Small start-up company in music industry never had enough budget to do promotion, and normally mass media will not pay attention to us, so if we do not help each other, how can we be success? From this point of view, Jordan is the most respected professional musician who really show his active help and support to most of “poor” start-up companies (exclude Roli Seaboard, congrats to their first step of success), if more famous musicians also do help like him, our industry will be more attractive for normal consumers.

    We cannot give good money return to Mr. Jordan, but we can listen to him and all musicians carefully, then we will develop the innovative product with right direction to make our music life easy and happy. If you love our industry also, let us work together and do something to make it better, we need your help! Our industry need your contribution! Please!

    Sorry for my poor English, If I said something wrong, please correct me, thanks. If you want to talk, you can find my facebook and email here:

    Best regards,
    Zhao Yitian

    1. I feel sorry for all the negativity going on in here, but it’s not your fault, it’s been happening with pretty much every products in the past year, it was not like this before (I’ve been reading this website for over 6 years).

    2. Zhao, thank you for your comments. That is exactly why I am on your mailing list for the next evolution of the XKey. Please dismiss the harsh comments. Once people play music for a while, they come to see where certain lines exist, both good and bad and such talk fades away. I’d like to vote for a sustain jack on the XKey and a different form of controls for pitch bend and modulation. The current buttons are too “squishy” and rather on-off for me to use smoothly. Those are minor points, because the XKey is fundamentally playable. Its seeing good use in my studio. Also, if Jordan is adding his experience to the process, good. Any design is the result of multiple input and his opinion is a useful one to include when considering a new tool.

      BTW, your English is excellent compared to my Chinese! I would surely stumble and end up comparing your grandmother to a duck. I’ll stick to sometimes clumsy language conversion apps any day.

      1. Dear Fungo,

        Thanks very much for your encouragement, we rely on that for keep insistence, because doing musical hardware is really difficult, so I appreciate your support!

        We are going to add Sustain pedal jack for new Xkey37, when you use your both hands to play it (because it is longer), we think it is important to get your feet help, hehe…Regarding the pitch bend and modulation, we will try to improve them in the future step by step, Jordan talked to us exact the same thing like you mentioned, thanks. Maybe you know any modification on hardware world will be a big thing, you need to change mechanical design, new tooling, and so on. It takes long time, and when we get enough support from market for our current model, we will afford to renew everything.

        The Xkey is a new type of keyboard, we did not expect everybody will need it, but we hope it is a useful additional tool for your mobile music making. I like the business term in North American, because everybody can try the new product and return it to the store freely if they feel it is not suitable for them, Sweetwater, Amazon, Costco…they all supply this great service. So far we did not see many returns to the dealers that mean our customer feels Xkey worked for them.

        We got 4.5 of 5.0 from reviewers on, and also similar best review on
        We are happy that most of customers like our Xkey, and we also respect some people who thought Xkey is not the right keyboard for them.

        Thanks for dear Fungo all who pay attention to CME and Xkey, we are listening to you and will respond to you from our heart.

        1. Hi Zhao,
          I believe the cheap and easy way to offer stronger control over the pressure sensitive switches for pitch and modulation is to put a bump very close to the switch. You put your finger on the bump and rock it back and forth to control how far you push the switch. The pitch bump would be right between the two switches. The modulation bump would be just below.
          You can still hit the switch directly for the same control you do now, but this would allow you to modulate the control without looking.
          Idea: Don’t put a C key at the right end of the keyboard, and make “extension” keyboards with no “control” buttons, that could be attached to the “main” keyboard physically. No need for fancy plug systems – that’s what USB hubs are for. One 25 or 37 key “main” keyboard, and two 25 key “extensions”, and you would have a 75 or 87 key keyboard that would still fit in the tiny case.
          Another idea: Matching pedal board – very low profile (1 inch thick) – with expression and switch pedal. As wide and deep as one octave. Make the pedal board operable from either front or back so you could have the pedals reversed, using the same board. Pedals either plug in to the xcontrol jack, or send midi through USB. Make it so pedal boards can be attached together for multi pedal systems.
          Another idea: Matching 9 fader, 9 volume, 18 button mixing controller like the korg nano-kontrol, but in xkey style.
          Another idea: Programming function for xkey that sets the left hand buttons up to use for transport control in a DAW.
          Another idea: Multi colored LED backlighting for xkey (for when there is enough power to run it.) Midi controlled – used for special effects or keyboard mode feedback from DAW.
          Another idea: Holes along the front, or hardware underneath the xkey to make it easy to “mount” it to a surface. The holes along the front would allow you to connect the xkey with “cup-hook” type fasteners by lifting up the back, sliding it on to the hooks, and setting it down.
          Another idea: Number stickers, to identify which keyboard is which in multi xkey setups. (I am loving this…)
          (I used to be the corporate keyboard musician for Alpha Syntauri, back in the 80s… Musical background from Conservatory of Music in San Francisco.)

    3. I don’t understand all the hate either. However, I can tell you as someone who has tried your product its complete garbage. I hope the next developments bring something innovative and more natural feeling to the market. I immediately returned your product after receiving it scuffed up from the packaging, as well as the key bed being terrible and hard to push or play naturally.

        1. I was wondering if you could increase the speed of the velocity and the amount of pressure on the xkey37. I am a piano player, and tend to make very high values. The keyboard is awesome, and the quality is very high. Also, if you could come out with an alternate xcontrol jack unit with extra pedals, instead of the midi jack…
          I’m also trying to find a couple of widi-xu units, if you can help.
          Also, can you make a nine fader (so it works like a Hammond) controller like the korg nano-kontrol, but styled to match the xkey? Thanks!
          (I also want an xkey61, and an xkey49. Gotta have it!)

  13. Is this the same CME that made my bitstream? Did they go through some kind of financial restructuring? I would have thought they’d offer more than a single product these days…

  14. Dear Brendan Clarke,

    Yes. Bitstream was designed by our CTO. And we are rebirth now after long tough time! Will try to bring more and more innovative products to our valued customers. 🙂

  15. CME has announced the new xKey 37 which “may” have a sustain pedal input. That would certainly be welcome news, however it is rumored that the xKey 37 will have a street price of $170 when it comes out in October (it was supposed to hit shelves in June) which will put it in the same price as controllers like the Samson Graphite 49. So Rudess better get busy showing us why 37-note controllers with no action and barely any features are equal in price to 49-note controllers with great action plus a host of assignable sliders, knobs and buttons.

    Isn’t Rudess holding that xKey upside down in the picture?

    1. Jim, I’m also using a Samson Carbon 49, which has a nice action for the price, but the XKey handles a couple of other things more readily. I also play a couple of traditional hardware synths. They all have different actions and I’ve ended up sometimes turning to the ‘specialist’ keyboard for specific things. The XKey can feel odd at first, because it ‘strikes’ uniformly through the entire length of each key. What it lacks in standard ‘throw’ it makes up for in sensitivity. It simply fits my work flow well. I’m so into Logic now that the Graphite’s controls would be mostly superfluous to me, but Samson got the controller thing right. I was a bit of a hardware workstation purist at first, but not any more. The field got too broad to dismiss.

      1. Dear Fungo,

        Thanks again. Actually Samson keyboard are all designed and made in our previous contract factory in China (we changed to an new IT factory now for Xkey), they are using similar keybed like our old UF keyboard, and we also did some helps of testing and verifying for the factory.

        I can understand some people prefer traditional and conventional keyboard action and touch feeling, but some people like to try new things. Something like I prefer computer keyboard, but new generation like touch screen deeply, it is just different personal habit.

        And from my point of view, it is also impossible to compare these two things in price, whether 49 conventional keys should be expensive or aluminum case plus professional sensors from Xkey should be cheaper. I would say if you like it and afford it, you will own it.

        There are many other brands who supply conventional keyboard controller in the market now, we just do not need to be another me too or cheap one, we feel it also wastes valuable resource for our industry! Our vision is developing a unique keyboard that can help musicians on the go, so when we meet the expected customer like you, that means we went to the right direction, this is just where we are intent to go. Cheers!

    1. Preciously! a lot of of video about musical product are so badly produced . just look at keyboard magazine’s videos. And these people suppose to know a thing or more about sound!

  16. Wow. I thought I was in a minority in thinking that Dream Theater is a cookie cutter band that makes color-by-number varieties of performances in which the percussion, chorus, and lead sometimes sound as if they are playing completely different songs, and that Jordan Rudess seems to excel at excruciatingly infinite trills that amount to nothing more than finger exercises, and that re-doing Tarkus was the equivalent of a remake of Citizen Kane and about as welcome. I wonder if the people who frequent the Dream Theater channel in YouTube ever visit Synthtopia? Hey, could they be the ones who SPAM Synthtopia so much?

  17. Mr Yitian,

    I am an X-Key owner. Its a great product! I would love the ability to be able to switch MIDI channel on the fly from the keyboard itself (e.g press a combination of buttons on the left followed by C for channel 1, D for channel 2 etc.). Can you make this possible in a firmware update?

    Regarding Jordan Rudess. I hadn’t heard of him until I saw various videos of him demonstrating gear. Amazing player. I think most of his “i’m trying this new piece of gear” videos are actually great, and very useful! I don’t understand the hate here.

    1. Dear Sparky,
      I think you know Chinese name system so well, haha…
      Thanks for the idea of switching MIDI channel on Xkey, we got similar request from professional musicians, definitely we will work on it. The problem for us is limited engineering resource, we need to finish current works for Xkey37 and then back to update the firmware and Xkey Plus. But for sure it is on the developing list.
      Thanks again and hope you enjoy your Xkey. Yitian

  18. So is the Xkey the only product CME makes now ? I clicked on the link and it seems to me the Xkey is the only thing on the webesite as far as product.

    1. Hi Alien,
      Yes, we only have Xkey as our selling model now (but we have special edition of different color versions available in US).
      We developed many models before, and some of them were preferred by professional customers. But we did not have enough ability to support them at all especially when we rely on some engineering resource from contract factory, that was our big mistake, so we learned from this painful history. Now we try to be better, we have talent CTO who is in charge of all development in-house, we have experienced COO from DELL computer who is in charge of manufacturing…everything is new at CME, we are growing up.
      Now we are developing Xkey as a new hardware platform, when we confirm it is good enough and accepted from our customers, we will be ready to speed up new development. Thanks for your attention.

  19. I just bought an XKey to entertain myself when I’m in my hotel room at night during some out of town meetings coming up. I’m going to work on some tunes in Logic as opposed to watching TV.
    I’ve been using it on and off, and while it’s a bit odd after being used to a full-travel, conventional controller, it’s not bad at all.
    As far as Jordan, he’s a bit goofy, but it’s not like he spit in your cereal or anything.
    Lighten up… he has talent, his band might not be making tons of $$, so he’s making a living.
    Moreover, the title he has been given is more or less a marketing tool.

    Just like Ailcia Keys was a “Global Art Director” for Blackberry. Like she had ANY real input on the design of the phones or GUI. Or ask what Taylor Swift did as a “Creative Director” at Coca-Cola, Justin Timberlake at MasterCard and Bud Light, at Intel and Coca-Cola, Swizz Beatz at Monster Audio.

    Just names to attract the attention of the masses.

    Insert roll eyes emoticon here

    1. Dear Kirudub,
      Actually I talked with Jordan frequently about new ideas of next product, he had a lot of experience on stage and in studio, so we rely on him to lead us to the right direction. That is the most fantastic part of our job, and we believe this will benefit to our customers also.

  20. Okay. I’ll fess up that I bought a Continuum after seeing Rudess use it in concert with Dream Theater. And I loved his Kurzweil demos (I am long time Kurzweil user), and also other stuff he’s done. So, fader down on the scorn, fader up on the open mind.

  21. I bought the xkey. It was complete garbage. The absolute worst piece of junk. The keys have no play in them, and for the price point your better off with a Keith McMillen QuNexus.

  22. While I think it is great that Jordan Rudess is endorsing this small company, I do however feel that his public image has been exhausted in the synthesizer community. We have seen his face plastered on many synths (software and hardware) on everything from really great synths like Omnisphere and the Arturia Origin, to synths that (in my humble opinion) are not so great like Wave’s Element. If someone is constantly attaching his image to everything he can, then I believe it could make some skeptical of the product and is therefore subject to ridicule. I do however think that the rude, over the top comments are not at all called for in any way, shape, or fashion. While I share some of your feelings, I think there is a fine line between constructive criticism and being insulting. To the C.E.O of the company, it is my belief that this is one of the products however that is innovative and useful. Jordan Rudess is an excellent keyboardist and I certainly hope you are successful in this partnership and the enterprise overall.

    1. Dear Andrew,
      Thanks so much for your comments, I really appreciate, hope we can get more ideas from you and other musicians, these make our works more meaningful.

      I agree with your feeling that Jordan was constantly attaching his image to everything he can (or he likes), and that is why I respect him more, because not all musicians would like to help small music companies without ask money first. I worked in this industry for more than 20 years now, and I knew many small company founders personally including Frederic Brun of Arturia (their first hardware MIDI keyboard came from CME), Eric Persing of Omnisphere, and some “not so great” brands etc. Unfortunately none of them are rich or big company, they all need helps to struggle in their business day by day, so we always try our best to support each other. This is the saddest part of our industry, most of music company need to make money by selling their products to poor musicians, rich people will buy Ferrari or luxury watch but not synthesizer, so most of music company cannot afford big endorsement budget of top musicians, but top musicians also rely on making money on their name for living.

      So this became a poor circle, especially for music instrument players, they make much less money than idol singers, but they spent much more money to purchase equipments, even with this the music companies still not be profitable like other industry. So when the professional musician like Jordan starts to help music company actively, maybe he can help them can get more customers from normal consumer market, this helps to enlarge our industry, finally everybody will be benefited from it.

      CME wants to use Xkey to target not only professional musicians, we also want to get more consumers, in this case we can use the margin that we get from consumers to invest back in next development, then we can add more professional features for musicians step by step, we hope we can establish a healthy business mode and contribute to our industry as well. So any suggestion for making this idea better is welcome for us, and we will give back to the music community with our efforts. Thanks again for your attention.

      1. I think that is a fair enough argument. If Jordan can help out with growing your company, than it sounds like a wise decision. I think the Xkey as a product is brilliant and if the word is spread, you should see a great return on this product. I know I certainly appreciate hearing from you and hearing your side to this story. It has certainly changed the way I see his (Jordans) entrance now that I have heard it told from your perspective. Again, I really wish you the best and I think you will be very successful, esp. with a great attitude like yours!

        1. Dear Andrew,
          Thanks so much again for your encouragement, we are still learning from the musicians like you, so that we can be better and better every day. If you have any question or idea, please do not hesitated to let us know, I guarantee that we will be the best listener. Cheers.

  23. OMG. Watching the vid, I am cringing simply based on the quality of the audio of his voice. It’s like a cheap circa 1970 Radio Shack mic somewhere in the room. Credibility is immediately shot – they couldn’t mic him in a more anechoic environment with a good mic???? Is this a professional audio product?

  24. All the hating…

    Fact is, Jordan can play.. probably better than most of us.

    And Jordan plays keys in a well-known prog metal band… Most of us haven’t attained his level of acknowledgement.

    And Jordan is a competent synthesist… who knows how to use his gear on a technical level… And has experience with MANY MANY synthesizers and their various pros and cons.

    And Jordan seems like a nice guy… I’ve never seen him on a blog or youtube hating on another musician.

    Good for him. 🙂

  25. Just ordered an xkey. I cant wait to play with it. It should also look really nice next to my apple keyboard. Much respect to Jordan Rudess as well.

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