Recently, Warner Music Group, parent to Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Records, and ticketing platform Songkick, announced it had purchased millennial entertainment and lifestyle media brand Uproxx, parent to flagship Uproxx.com, film and TV site HitFlix, and sports site Dime. (Alas, the powers that be were not\u00a0interested in acquiring BroBible.com.)\u00a0The\u00a0announcement\u00a0was crammed with\u00a0buzzwords:\u00a0"Daily content and programming." "Authenticity and transparency."\u00a0"Pioneering personalities and credible brands." "Creative and entrepreneurial environment." The Warner\/Uproxx\u00a0acquisition comes at\u00a0a moment when\u00a0small media operations are\u00a0increasingly\u00a0being swallowed up\u00a0by larger companies. Complex's parent company is a joint venture between\u00a0Verizon and media conglomerate Hearst. Rival\u00a0magazine\u00a0empire Cond\u00e9 Nast\u00a0bought influential music website\u00a0Pitchfork. Spin's current parent company owns several publications (including Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter), as well as Dick Clark Productions and production houses A24 and MRC. Industrial-strength combinations make sense for big entertainment companies, because they offer bigger and wider potential audiences for bigger and more expensive\u00a0advertising initiatives and\u00a0financial ventures. There are natural "integrated marketing" and "synergy" opportunities within the larger company structures, too: Just last week, Spin\u00a0received a press release titled "Pitchfork's OctFest Unveils Food Lineup, Curated By Bon App\u00e9tit." OctFest is the music festival hosted by\u00a0Pitchfork's beer site October, which is a partnership with\u00a0Anheuser-Busch InBev;\u00a0its\u00a0food vendors were picked\u00a0by Cond\u00e9 Nast's legacy food publication,\u00a0Bon App\u00e9tit. As these business-focused acquisitions of primarily journalistic entities\u00a0become more common, the\u00a0new corporate structures raise obvious questions about basic editorial independence. Donald Trump's cries of "Amazon\u00a0Washington Post"\u00a0aside,\u00a0Jeff Bezos's ownership opens the paper to real critique about the possibility for conflict tied to financial or political interests.\u00a0Sooner or later, Uproxx's editors will likely\u00a0encounter a situation where the coverage\u00a0they want to publish\u00a0is at odds with the corporate\u00a0prerogatives of a bureaucratic major record label. What happens then? In a press release announcing the acquisition, Warner said Uproxx's "editorial and studio operations will function as stand-alone entities with journalistic and creative independence." The company\u00a0declined further comment to Spin. No publication\u2014including this one\u2014is immune from such\u00a0concerns, and the best solution is usually transparency. Branded and sponsored content is part of every site, and the\u00a0industry standard is to\u00a0distinctly note which content has been explicitly underwritten\u00a0by another brand. That hasn't always been a priority at\u00a0Uproxx, where ordinary interviews\u00a0and reviews also live alongside and\u00a0within projects effectively funded by outside corporations or brands but\u00a0rarely\u00a0disclosing as much. The past few weeks have included\u00a0"Behind the Scenes of a True Southern Whiskey-Hot Sauce Collaboration," an article that includes the name\u00a0"Tabasco" 15 times; a preview and a review of a barbecue and country music festival in Chicago, the latter revealing\u00a0that the festival itself paid for some undisclosed portion of the trip; and interviews\u00a0with two\u00a0Australian EDM acts tucked\u00a0inside something called "A Preview of Splash House, The Coolest Way to Get Soaked This Summer."\u00a0Most infamous is "Breaking Up in Joshua Tree Helped Me Understand My Own Twisted Heart," the sponsor-affiliated personal essay that received its own Deadspin investigation, where even the essayist acknowledged\u00a0the story had been widely mocked. Uproxx has responded by\u00a0pointing readers to its\u00a0policy on press trips, though it's not readily visible on the site if you're not looking for it. The\u00a0policy amounts to this: "If we don\u2019t like something\u2014a food experience, a travel excursion, etc.\u2014then we don\u2019t cover it." Without the indirect financial backing or perks provided by brands, stories like those cited above would almost certainly not exist. Uproxx, an enthusiastic publication at heart, is by all appearances institutionally fine with this. (According to the L.A. Times, the site's original parent company was renamed Uproxx Media Group in 2017 after it received funding from the massive advertising firm WWP.) The arrangement also happens to make the site particularly attractive to a buyer who would have a lot to gain from owning a fully integrated lifestyle brand. It's not so different from Warner's other recent fan-oriented website acquisition, Songkick, which helps users search for upcoming concerts and buy tickets. One company could theoretically sign the artist, sell their music, organize their tour, market and sell the tickets for that tour, and publish a story each step of the way. Maybe that story ends with a link to search local tickets. It's sort of depressing, but such is the world in which journalism currently exists. I mean\u00a0no malice to my colleagues at Uproxx, who surely feel as fortunate as I do to work\u00a0in the (increasingly tenuous) industry for which we all care deeply. Most\u00a0smaller publications cannot afford the\u00a0New York\u00a0Times' lofty policy of\u00a0never accepting a freebie. Like\u00a0most music journalists, I have requested press tickets from publicists or labels, and sometimes\u00a0covered their artists' events. This is a condition of the business; the difference is that I don't work for the people handing out those tickets, and I don't answer to them, either.\u00a0But what\u00a0if a big Warner Bros. or Atlantic artist\u2014Bruno Mars or Gorillaz, say\u2014releases an album that's straight-up terrible? Will\u00a0Uproxx writers be able to say as much? What if the news is\u00a0worse than bad music\u2014what if it's a\u00a0#MeToo\u00a0allegation, a public meltdown, or an arrest? A\u00a0major record label outright owning a publication with a prominent\u00a0music focus is new territory. Theoretically, it positions Uproxx\u00a0somewhere between traditional entertainment media and something like Urban Legends, Universal Music\u00a0Group's officially sanctioned outlet. It would be nice to know where on that\u00a0spectrum, but until then,\u00a0I have to doubt\u00a0that the\u00a0head honchos at Warner Music have a thoroughly detailed and ethically sound plan of action in place for their new stable of media sites.\u00a0The rise of online advertising\u00a0and social media\u2014especially Facebook\u2019s stranglehold on the attention economy\u2014have\u00a0perverted the industry's incentives almost beyond recognition. The\u00a0digital era fundamentally changed the media business; it will never be the same, and it will never be as profitable. With that, at least, the major labels are painfully familiar.