I think I dodged a bullet having my PhD application rejected.
Truth is, I really don't like machine learning. I'm bored to tears by it. And I don't like how it's eating up the music technology space in academia.
During the whole interviewing process, there was no mention of "machine learning", and the "AI" buzzword was used exactly once in the description of the program. Now, I see who they brought on, and what they are doing, and it's full-on machine learning. I would have been miserable.
Here's the deal: I guess "machine learning" is a buzzword that apparently gets you money? But this ends up turning things into solutions-in-search-of-problems. You either end up with musicians with superficial understandings of ML saying completely unhelpful things like "what if DALL-E but with music", or data scientists who are too lazy to actually dig into music trying to write programs to do it for them. In either case, nobody is doing anything all that inspiring.
@paul the ivory tower is so great in theory and horrible in practice. I remember reading somewhere that a school's report card isn't about the student, but about how well the school failed/succeeded in helping the student, and I think it's apropos here