The Many Views of Betty Freeman
Betty Freeman on Central Park South
New York City, December 18, 1997
Photo courtesy Betty Freeman
FRANK J. OTERI: You said before we began this whole thing that you haven’t really dealt with the Internet at all.
BETTY FREEMAN: I haven’t even seen it.
FRANK J. OTERI: Wow, well we have to take care of that at some point.
BETTY FREEMAN: Well my granddaughters have one.
FRANK J. OTERI: I’m so excited about the Internet because I see this thing as the perfect information vehicle to spread the word about new music. And it really doesn’t take much. All you need is a computer in someone’s home, and bingo, that information is there. It’s even easier than getting someone to hear a CD or to go to a concert. If somebody wants to find the information, it’s there.
BETTY FREEMAN: Does everybody you know have one?
FRANK J. OTERI: No, but the majority do. And that’s changed in the last I would even say, 2-3 years ago, maybe half the people I knew had it and now it’s more like 80-90%. I can count on my hand the people I know who still don’t have Internet access.
BETTY FREEMAN: Oh? Really?
FRANK J. OTERI: And that’s been the remarkable change in American culture in, let’s say, the past 5 years. You talked before about this 15 year thing, which I think is interesting because I was just reading an article about electronic music by Kyle Gann in the New York Times the other day. He was saying that there was a cultural sea change that happened in the early 1980s and that was the advent of people having computers, and having MIDI-based electronic musical instruments, digital interfaces for electronic instruments, and that forever changed the way we create things. The Internet has been around for over a generation now, but it has only become part of the general culture in the last 5 years. And I think if anything, the energy that you feel has left may shift back to America because of it. Right now, more than half the people on the Internet are in the United States.
BETTY FREEMAN: Well. Yes, O.K.
FRANK J. OTERI: Think of the potential for music.
BETTY FREEMAN: You can’t hear the music?
FRANK J. OTERI: Yes, you can hear music.
BETTY FREEMAN: They’ll hear the music?
FRANK J. OTERI: Yes, you can play sound files. It’s interesting, you can have images of paintings, you can have recordings of music, you can even have video running of a concert or an opera, or a motion picture.
BETTY FREEMAN: With the sound?
FRANK J. OTERI: Yeah, it’s remarkable. And, it’s like television. In April, we started using videos on the Web magazine with the interviews that we do. Unfortunately we’re not able to do that with you because we’re talking on the telephone. But the first one we did it with was Meredith Monk, the video shows her talking about music. It’s almost like watching her television. And, if it’s on a monitor in a room, people are inevitably drawn to it, just like a TV set.
BETTY FREEMAN: Oh, good.
FRANK J. OTERI: For me, the future of music is on the Internet.