Lisa Pegher: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Stay relevant and original
AI tools make it easy for people to simply accept the first answer given to them. The best thing humans can do is stay human, believe your intuition and don’t assume that AI has a better answer than the one that you could have come up with without it.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing LISA PEGHER.

Hailed as “tremendous (The New York Times),” and “forcefully balletic (The Boston Globe),” Lisa Pegher is one of today’s leading contemporary percussionists and an innovator in the application of technology in music. When Lisa is not performing, she is often working on engineering new creator tools in the musical instruments space as an engineering leader at the music creation platform, Splice. Pegher credits technology for expanding her career both as an artist and creator. Lisa is currently working on an evening-length multimedia concert that takes audiences on a musical journey from acoustic to A.I.-generated music in A.I.RE (Artificial Intelligence Rhythm Evolution). The world premiere happens in NYC May 17th. To learn more about Lisa, please visit

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

When I was a kid in grade school, a teacher handed me a pair of drumsticks to try out different instruments and that day set the path for a lifetime journey with music that I never imagined. In many ways, music saved my life because it gave me something to believe in that was bigger than myself. It taught me discipline, perseverance, overcoming ones own ego, persistence, and maybe the most valuable of all, the importance of practice in everything I do. By ninth grade, I had formed an ambitious goal to become a percussion soloist. Something that was, and still is to some extent, extremely niche and not widely accepted at the time in the classical music industry. This would make it more difficult than if I had chosen violin or piano, but something about the challenge had always enticed me. Through an extreme practice regime and finding the right teachers, I obtained a full merit scholarship to the first university I attended which afforded me to also get a masters degree in performance. I was performing solos with orchestras by the time I was 22 and have since toured around the world performing percussion concertos, some of which have been written specifically for me with many professional orchestras. Somewhere along the path, I started to feel that I was being somewhat creatively restricted confined only to classical music and started branching out to explore my own creative ideas and tastes in music by composing and beginning to curate my own shows to get out of that perceived box I was feeling. I had an innate urge to invent something new and explore creative ideas with percussion that hadn’t been done before. The only way I felt was possible do that is was to reach inside and bring to the world what was unique only to my inner self expression.

My first exploratory project in the realm was titled “Minimal Art” and at the time was one of the first multimedia immersive percussion experiences out there. I curated a whole show and double album/film tracks around it. Then came my exploration into raw improvisation and wanting to cross genres and break confined jazz boundaries with the SideFire Trio that I founded in Brooklyn back in 2015. Again, I was reaching to the depths what was possible and curated a show that mixed elements of pop music, dance, singing and a self directed movie that was set to live midi triggers where at one point, I get up from the drums and join the choreographed dance with the hip hop dancers.

During both of these projects, I began integrating beyond the normal arsenal of percussion instruments and started blending electronics, samples and midi controls. This is where my innate curiosity of coding software began. In the midst of all of this, I had a friend who was an amazing software engineer formerly at google who I would often call to talk about startup ideas with. He was the one that encouraged me to learn basic programming and how coding eventually became a side passion/interest. Eventually through more involvement, study and getting more serious about it over time, it lead me to work as an engineer at the music creation platform, Splice where I was able to contribute to coding some of the newest music creation software in the industry. Fast forward to now and by some force of nature I’ve merged these two worlds together into my current project “A.I.RE” (now my third curated solo percussion show) which takes the listener through a journey from the roots of acoustic percussion music, through its evolution with electronics and to the current state where A.I. has the ability to learn on its own from the performer and generate its own music. A journey that is very much correlated with my own evolution with percussion and music.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

It’s a difficult question to answer because I run my own company as a performer/curator, and also work for the music creation platform, Splice in the technology space.

What makes Splice stand out is that the company is a true leader in the creative music making space. What began as a simple idea to store samples for music producers has evolved to become a powerhouse music creation platform ecosystem where the new technology we are building makes it possible for anyone with or without musical experience to start making music and make use of the largest music sample library in the world. The human creators behind the sample making at Splice are the real deal. They go above and beyond to create most authentic sounds; in some cases literally going to the ends of the earth to record and perform them.
At my own LLC, the thing I’ve always strived for is to push the boundaries of what is possible with percussion, drums, sounds and visuals. Sometimes that comes in the form of commissioning a concerto like my most recent one Circuits and Skins by Paul Dooley that mixes genres like EDM and Classical or the solo shows I’ve mentioned previously. In all these cases, each project came from deep within myself during some evolution of my own life where maybe I couldn’t say what I needed to in words, so I expressed it through music creation and art instead.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

– Practice/Dedication
My first experience with the importance of practice came from losing and audition which, oddly, wasn’t related to music. I laugh looking back at this today but I had auditioned for the cheerleading squad in sixth grade and didn’t make the cut. I was both devastated and motivated by the loss. Rather than giving up and blaming outside sources, the next day I was determined to practice the gymnastics moves every day with my sister until the next years audition. It was the first time I experienced the drive of trying to perfect and refine a goal over a long period of time and the importance of learning a strong foundation no matter where you start, or what you are trying to accomplish. Each day I could see and feel that the moves were getting better and easier. That increased my willpower to keep trying. I think it was the beginning of my lifetime of practice and striving for an innate sense of perfection in everything I do. Soon after, I was auditioning for music competitions and auditions and using the same methodology. Overtime, my entire life in some sense has become a practice. I see it and feel it in everything I do whether it be something simple like practicing yoga, learning a full length percussion concerto to perform with an orchestra, or learning a computer programming language. It’s the steady refinement of ones inner self continuously over time that eventually shows up in everything. When the realization hits that this process of practice is never ending and defies time and concepts, it can lead to really fulfilling life.

– Perseverance/Willpower
Willpower is having a good idea and being able to make that idea into reality. Where I see so many people fail at this is the making it into reality part, because that part is really hard work. It’s easy to have a good idea and never act upon it or find reasons to give up before you’ve even gotten out of the gate. Willpower means not giving up and overcoming all obstacles in your way until your idea is either a reality or you’ve exhausted all options and somewhere in that process realized that you needed to go another direction, which in my mind is not giving up, it’s changing direction — evolving if you will. Perseverance goes hand in hand with this because when obstacles arise, it’s tempting give up and stop believing in yourself. Perseverance is needed in the low points to be able to recognize that tending to the path is what eventually gets you to the goal.

– Beginners Mind/ Resilience

There are hard times. We all come to them. There have been times when I’ve had to change direction, there are times when things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to and I wanted to give up because the hit felt so hard. But, the idea of always being able to go back to what is called “Beginners Mind” and having the resilience to always in some way be a lifelong student is what has allowed me to reinvent myself, my projects and career over time. I’ve found that there’s a danger in saying you’ve become an expert at something because it has the possibility of portraying that there’s nothing else to learn, and nowhere else to grow. What I’ve learned is that there is no true perfection, and no means to an end. There is only continuously improving and refining. Society would benefit from refraining from stereotyping in any form because having free will means we can always start again. There’s always something new to learn. Growth, impermanence and change are some of the only constants in life.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line?

Every day I’m surrounded by news and discussions about how AI is starting to affect the music industry and there are many different facets to this. The most glaring one is in generative music creation and copyright infringements. AI models can essentially regenerate existing music and change it just enough that it isn’t necessarily considered that original piece of art or song anymore. Which also makes it not subject to the original copyright. Think of any favorite artist releasing a track, then that track gets reproduced with a different key and maybe a different vocalist or a slightly different feel. What happens is that core creative idea in some way can be seen as stolen from the original artist and maybe that track gets uploaded to Spotify and starts taking royalties away from the original artist’s idea. This can get out of control pretty quickly and there are already cases of it like fake Drake, etc. Another issue is how fast music can now be produced, uploaded and streamed. This is clear in the creative tools we are making at Splice. By the press of a button, our technology is able to search through thousands of samples and match the most compatible sounds to quickly produce a starter song. This is a good thing and makes for a great inspiration idea generator because the user (human) is still in charge of the creative process of deciding which samples they like and want to keep. However, when we come across tools where AI is making all of the choices and humans start to assume what they are given must be the best choice instead of being able to conscientiously decide based true intuition and learned knowledge — this is where I feel the true risk and concern should be. Just imagine… a world where we type a question into a google search, get an answer back and assume the answer is the ultimate truth because it was at the top of the answer list.. but it’s actually just something stored on a server that is being fed to you as the truth and often times is from years ago that is no longer relative, true or valid. Sound familiar? This has already been happening organically ever since google search was released. Tools like ChatGPT are just adding more complexity to an already high-risk problem. In this world we are living in, it will become imperative that humans refuse to allow these tools to be the ultimate truth on how to be, think, act, and create. We need to always question the source and dig deeper. These tools on the downside can make humans lazy, thoughtless, unoriginal, and assuming. On the upside, they can spark ideas, help us gain knowledge faster, create inspiration and unblock solving problems faster. So the bottom line? It’s hurting and helping. For now, it’s still up to us humans to decide how far either side the pendulum tips.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

I’d say for now it’s Generative AI. There are now many platforms and tools available to quickly produce music by simply giving a prompt that could be as simple as a description of what you want, or a genre feel to a simple instrument sound idea. A person can essentially have zero musical experience now and still be able to create and upload an entire AI generated artist persona, generated cover art and an entire AI generated album overnight. This is already having a profound effect on creative landscape and what it means to be a music producer and consumer of music in the future. We may come to a point where AI music is its own genre in and of itself, leaving humans out of the equation completely.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

As I mentioned above, generative AI is the current game changer. It’s already reshaping the creative landscape of art, photography, writing and language. There’s no going back, there’s only how we embrace it, integrate it, and not allow it to dumb down our society but rather enhance our capabilities as a whole. It’s a tight rope to walk and if we’re not careful it could tip in the wrong direction.

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

Education is key. Using the tools that are available, learning what value they provide and what the risks, rewards and reality of each are. We cannot lose the core foundational of knowledge in any area of any workforce that the AI originally learned from. If we do, we run the risk of not knowing when it is being used against us. In an AI-enhanced future, people, communication, and interaction skills are going to become ever more important because anything that can be automated, likely will be. Foundational technical skills in every field will become an even more important requirement. For instance, in learning music, chatGPT will never be able to practice scales on your instrument for you, but it can help you learn what notes are in an e minor scale, what it sounds like and maybe even produce a track for you in that key.

What are the biggest challenges in up-skilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

Again I go back to the importance of ensuring that workforces learn and master to some extent foundational skills without using AI tools at first. If we don’t continue to teach humans foundational skills without the use of computers to do it for us, we could potentially begin to deteriorate as a society. Consider the difference between a person who never had to work or learn anything in their entire life because it was all handed to them, versus someone who had to work for everything for mere survival and find creative ways to thrive and survive or die. Which person would you put in charge of a ship that is about to sink? Strong knowledge and intellect comes from having a solid foundation skillset first, as well as gaining true intuition from experience. If we always start there, and add AI as an enhancement, we could maintain the equilibrium.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

Bias is the most glaring one, and it’s not just in this industry. It’s one of the biggest ethical considerations of AI out there. There are cities that are now using AI facial recognition tools to record human data without asking for consent. This can be used against the population as a secret backdoor in many different ways. We fight against it with resumes and are seeing an increased number of resumes come in that are either generated by tools like ChatGPT on the candidate side, or on the HR side businesses are rejecting applications after using AI biased tools to sift through them. If both sides aren’t being honest, it can take away from anything being valid and not giving the right people a chance. Everyone needs to come together to recognize and address these risks and find ways to create and implement ethical ways to mitigate them.
The other big one more specific to music is copyright issues. We don’t have a system ready for what AI is about to do to the music and creative industries. We need a better way to maintain ownership over creative assets or run the risk of a future where the music people create are diminished to an over saturation so immense that it eventually devalues all creative assets.

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

1 . Stay relevant and original
AI tools make it easy for people to simply accept the first answer given to them. The best thing humans can do is stay human, believe your intuition and don’t assume that AI has a better answer than the one that you could have come up with without it.

2 . Human contacts will always be the most important
Don’t stop creating your network of humans. In a world filled with iPhones, quick answers and too many choices — be real and reach out and connect with people.

3 . If you are in an industry that can be replaced by AI,
Start building other passions and side projects now. It’s never too late to start again. Don’t wait to be replaced, grow into other areas in your life.

4 . Don’t get left behind! Embrace, learn and understand the new tools
I hear some people saying, “I stay away from that” or act like it doesn’t exist so maybe it will go away. It’s already here, so the best thing we can do is become as educated and knowledgeable about it as possible. Use the tools, see what they have to offer. Embracing it will keep you relevant, could spark inspiration and may even make your life easier.

5 . Use your powers for good
Most importantly, recognize if you see AI being used unethically and say something. Find ways to use the powers for good and stand up for the human race by never assuming that what an AI prompt tells you is the ultimate truth.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

AI is all bad: There is a great divide among people where many hear the word AI and shut down because they have a great aversion to it. There are many concerns with AI that we as a society are going to have to face together but there are also positive aspects that we can embrace.

AI is robots and computers taking over the world
As humans, we tend to not like things we don’t understand. If ones knowledge is limited and unwilling to learn more, be fluid and seek to understand, it’s easy to jump to conclusions. The way to address this is to face the fear, learn about it, challenge your own mind and become more educated. Along the way if you’re lucky you might see a different perspective.

AI will kill art and music
We’ve come to pivot points in the arts and music like this before. I personally can point to when people would say, “live drummers are no longer needed” when producers started using drum machines. When electronic books came out, everyone thought that would be the end of paperback books. The reality is that its a transformation, an integration of something different, something new. But it’s more likely that nothing will kill art and music. Artist’s and musicians will continue to do what we do best — — adapt and find creative ways to evolve with it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” — ― Shunryu Suzuki

This is a quote I think about a lot. I mentioned it earlier in the interview, as well. Going into things with an open mind is something that has kept me motivated. One type of yoga class I take is always the same 28+2 posture sequence over 90 minutes. I’ve been taking that same class for over a decade, by now, probably thousands of the same classes. What I can tell you about it is that every time I do the postures, they always feel slightly different. So it also doesn’t matter if I played a C Major scale over a million times in my life, if I play one today, starting new allows for a new perspective, something new could arise, it might feel different, maybe it sounds a little different today. In life, there have been many projects that I worked years on, and felt they failed because the outcome wasn’t what I had envisioned in my mind. Starting over with a beginners mind kept me going. When I started learning programming languages, it was breaking out of my own persona of myself and allowing a new path to see where it could lead. If I only allowed myself to be one concept and idea of myself I would have never been able to start over at a brand new thing. Our society pushes this idea that there is a beginning and end, that we have to be this thing or only that thing. But, in reality nothing can be created nor destroyed. Which in essence means that anything is possible at anytime as long as we are humble enough to be able to start again and be a forever student in some capacity.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

A lot of times it’s related to people because I have a strong empath personality and have a tendency towards over-thinking different angles and outcomes of conversations and interactions I’ve had throughout the day or in life. Other times it’s around projects ideas, visions, timelines, logistics, unsolved problems, and things of that nature. All of those thoughts, to me, are just part of processing what is keeping me awake. There’s typically a clearing of the mind that happens, or a moment of clarity that allows me to bring the best next step into focus. There are also times when this processing takes longer and it’s not always immediately apparent where or when the answer is going to land. When it comes to leaning towards empath, I’ve learned over time that being able to consider how things are being absorbed and taken in by other people can be both a blessing and a curse. The positive is that it ensures that in day to day decision making I’m always taking other perspectives and feelings into consideration and genuinely searching for a harmonious outcome in every situation.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As humans, we have a tendency to constantly be comparing ourselves to others, judging ourselves, looking for outward things to try to fix something that can only be solved within our inner-selves. The movement would be for each individual to find and believe in their own inner superpowers; to not let the internet’s answers or viewing others lives determine who you are or who you should be. A movement to never assume and always ask more questions. A movement to recognize that time is a concept humans made up — but that does not inherently exist, and that just because advertisements show us things, it doesn’t make it true. A movement where everyone brings to the world what only each unique soul is capable of manifesting. Knowing that everything we think, see, feel or do can have a profound effect on every other element, human, and animal we come into contact with — no matter how big or small. Let’s save the world by becoming our true, most authentic selves, free of preconceived ideas and concepts and in turn bring out the best in each other.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Instagram: @lismae
X: @LisaP_SoloDrums
Facebook Page: @lisapegherpercussion

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.