The major effect of the digital revolution is the gradual disappearance of the middlemen. We no longer need retail stores when we can order anything online. We don't need, alas, newspapers or other paper products when we can read everything on the Internet. Goodybe, too, to libraries and movie theaters. Today's disappearing act: not just CDs, but the record companies that produce them:
A full-time career in music seemed unlikely for Chris O'Brien, or at least one that would pay the bills.
But these days, the 27-year-old Medford musician is selling thousands of albums online, along with downloads from his debut CD, "Lighthouse," and he soon plans to offer T-shirts, tickets, and other merchandise on his MySpace page and personal website.
He credits at least part of his newfound business acumen to nimbit, a sales, promotion, and distribution company in Framingham that helps emerging artists build careers online.
"This is the era of the independent artist," O'Brien said. "It's easier and more doable than it ever has been. People are opting to remain independent because there's a lot more money to be had."
Nimbit is one of a growing number of businesses, including CD Baby and Musictoday, that have helped make it easier for independent musicians to make a living from their work and widely distribute their music.
This is good not only for the artists. It is also good for music fans -- we will have many more choices at a much better price, the money formerly taken by the middlemen being split by the artists and us. It should be good for the music, too, fostering the kind of creativity we haven't seen with the record labels and radio networks in charge. I look forward to the new folk music of the digital age, swapping songs back and forth online instead of around the campfires of the rail yards.