I have recently applied to two PhD programs (in Europe) under professors working in the area of Sound and Music Computing (SMC). Both programs are very well regarded in this area.
SMC covers topics such as:
- Music information retrieval
- Computational musicology
- Algorithmic composition / performance
- Sentiment and expression modelling in music
- Computational approaches to music cognition
- Audio signal processing
This is not a complete list. I find the field very interesting.
However, would the industry want to hire someone with a PhD in SMC? Let's say Google (just as an example), which is known to hire many PhDs. Would they be interested in someone with a PhD in SMC, or would they restrict themselves to machine learning / web / search PhDs? And yes... I'm sure that Yamaha would love to hire an SMC PhD, but would I be restricting my options to only a small subset of the industry?
What about academia? How would they look upon an applicant to the assistant professor position who has a PhD in this area? Would they simply reject him saying "Sorry, but we don't do research in your area...", since it is true that most CS departments don't do active research in SMC? Again, would I be restricting my options to only a small subset of universities?
Secondly, how easy / hard is it to switch fields AFTER doing a PhD in it? I may like SMC enough to work on it for 5 years (and get a PhD) but I MAY not want to work on it for a lifetime. In industry or academia, could I switch to something else when (and if) I want to?
One researcher told me that I should only consider pursuing my interest in SMC after I have already established myself in some other, more fundamental, area of CS, like algorithms or AI. Do you agree?
This thread should be useful to anyone considering a PhD in a specialized or maybe even an obscure area.