When did tech darlings become such curmudgeons?

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) is acquiring Amie Street, only to shut down the 4-year-old music site later this month. If the scenario feels familiar, it's because this is pretty much what Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) did when it bought music-streaming specialist Lala several months ago. Lala's servers were axed in May.

Are the leaders of digital music retail just big ole meanies? Probably not. Everyone assumes that Lala's death will eventually lead to Apple rolling out its cloud-based music streaming service through iTunes.

It remains to be seen what Amazon has in its plans for Amie Street's ghost.

Amazon invested in the site before its 2006 launch. Amie Street had an original pricing model: Uploads would be free for the first few streams, with prices inching higher as the number of downloads increased. The price would peak at $0.98 a track, roughly in line with what Amazon and Apple are charging.

Unfortunately for Amie Street, that kind of escalating price model didn't sit too well with signed artists. It left the site populated mostly by unknown artists, and the rub there is that folks know they can usually find their music for free -- as streams if not actual downloads -- through News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS) MySpace and other indie music launch pads.

Digital music has been a hard market to crack outside of Apple's iTunes sales. Subscription services -- where folks pay a flat free for unlimited streaming and temporary downloads -- were hot a few years ago, but Best Buy's (NYSE: BBY) Napster and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Zune Pass don't seem all that buzz-worthy these days.

The acquisitions will continue, though. Now that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is ready to dive headfirst into digital music, it only makes sense for Apple, Amazon, and even Google to arm themselves with specialized ammo for this pending battle of the bands.

Amazon isn't just a fed-up neighbor, buying the property of a young party thrower to get some sleep. It wants to make sure it gets invited to the next swinging soiree.

Will there ever be a bigger force in digital music than Apple? Post your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a music fan since birth. His band was once signed to Sony's Columbia Records label many moons ago. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.