Gatekeepers such as galleries controlled access to traditional art markets. Only those artists who seemed fit for sale have had the opportunity to make a living from their art. Today, on new platforms such as NFT marketplaces, anyone with an Internet connection has the opportunity to offer works of art to a global audience. The role of gatekeeper seems to have disappeared.
Truth is that in the former times, once you have crossed the threshold you only used to compete with a limited number of peers. Nowadays without any threshold, it means that you compete with a seemingly endless number of other artists of different levels of skills. Or in other words: you are amidst the long tail of digital art production. In order to stand out from that crowd you have to struggle for attention. If you want to focus on your art production rather than organizing a community on social media that supports you, you are looking for a partner who can help you attract potential collectors.
On closer inspection, that exactly has always been the role of the gallery: Organizing opening events, sending out information and weaving networks between artists and collectors. For doing that job, galleries have withheld a large part of the revenue. Today, the role of gallerists can stay the same, but the skill set and job description must have changed: today they need to operate in a digital environment. And they have to measure themselves against many other players in that field that have no background as a gallery at all, but are able to gain many followers and highlight certain artists and collections in the market.
In short: Gatekeepers no longer control access, but attention.