I made the mistake of going into a Fye store the other day to ask if they had a ska section. The overweight and entirely too sweaty assistant manager made a point of looking down his nose at me before informing me that ska was "over like 5 years ago."
I considered this for a moment, and then asked him if he knew where the Donny and Marie Osmond albums were. He ponderously led me to them, indicating them with a sniff and derisive wave of his hands.
"Thanks," I said, "Just checking," and left him there, all a-quiver.
He didn't have what I wanted, and he was an ass about it, so I went elsewhere. And although he certainly didn't realize it, he didn't lose my business. After all, it's very hard to lose what you never had in the first place. I wanted a ska section that I could paw through in search of something new or to find a band I had never heard of. Not to buy, but to search for on Kazaa later. I'll be damned if I'm going to spend money on something I've never heard of.
But I'll happily download it. I can find all sorts of new stuff just by typing generic terms into the Kazaa search engine. It's the equivalent of pawing through Fye's non-existent ska section, not to mention all the other ones.
I'm the reason why a buck a tune is going to fail. Me, and people like me, which is most everyone. If you doubt me, take a look at the Gnutella meter. While there are a few specific searches, the vast majority are those that will produce multiple results. People aren't searching for specific songs, they're trawling for music, downloading dozens of tunes.
And there in a nutshell is the record companys' problem. People will download all sorts of crap for free, just to see if a nugget or two of gold can be gleaned out of the megabits of dross in their download folders. There's no way they will do that at a buck a tune, or 18 cents a tune, or even a nickel a tune. They'll just stay with Kazaa, or Gnutella. They might pan for music at a penny a tune, but anything higher than that is unlikely. Very few people are willing to pay for music that they haven't heard.