People's Music Store is a newly launched DIY online music store. It was created by the founder of MP3 reseller Bleep.com, Ged Day. People's Music Store styles itself as "the first music store entirely powered by music fans." Basically the service allows you to set up your own custom-designed record store, with music chosen from a catalogue of indie record labels (so far no major record label music). The idea is that you earn points, equivalent to 10% of the price of the single, EP or album that you sell. These points can only be used to buy other music items on the People's Music Store site.

I set up my own music store and was very quickly able to create a colorful and unique record store. There's even a tie-in with last.fm, where you can automatically find and add music that any last.fm user has listened to. Overall the range of music available isn't great - but on the positive side, it makes you search around for new music that you may not have heard before. Electronica is heavily represented, like on Bleep.com. There are some 'big name' artists available too, when they have released via indie labels. For example I found some music by Pixies, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and Franz Ferdinand.

There are more than 650 stores currently, with over 250,000 songs in the catalogue - most appear to be available at $0.99 per song or $8.99 per album. The site claims to be "working with" 4,500 labels, including 4AD, XL, Rough Trade, Matador, Dominio, and Ged Day's own Warp.

Other than the lack of major label music, there is another minor annoyance for those of us who don't live in the U.S. - international users will frequently run into a "we're sorry, but this release is not available in your country" message. However on the plus side, all the music available for download is DRM-free and at high quality 320Kbps.

Founder Ged Day set up People's Music Store because he felt that no one company, including his own Bleep.com, can manage music expertise at a large scale. People's Music Store is hoping to tap into the Long Tail and enable music fans to create thousands of unique music stores. In a way it's like 'MySpace meets Etsy'.

On some of the more popular stores, for example one called walpod, we can see plenty of evidence of social media:

  • Profiles
  • Storekeeper comments - basically a form of blog post
  • Shoutbox - like Facebook's Wall
  • RSS feeds
  • Favoriting stores (kind of like the 'friending' concept in social networks)
  • Ability to add items from other peoples stores to your own, with one click

However there's work to be done with the social elements on the service - for example it's not intuitive where and how to add content such as 'news' and other multimedia into one's storefront.

Overall I found the concept of setting up my own online record store to be a compelling one, despite the limited range of music currently available and the relatively minor quibbles with social media elements. And in terms of music discovery, People's Music Store does a great job of enabling music fans to find new music. In the 'alternative' music stores I browsed, I discovered several interesting new acts I hadn't heard before. So if you're a music fan, People's Music Store is worth checking out. Let us know what you think in the comments.