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Universal Music Group has acquired a stake in the hip-hop music marketing site Loud.com.

The New York-based site serves primarily as a portal for users to create their own songs using pre-made beats for a competition against other would-be MCs. Users download the Loud Studio software, which comes with a handful of free beats, and must purchase additional beats in packages.

Submissions are judged by the community, site staff and hip-hop producers such as David Banner, Midi Mafia and Sha Money. The winner receives $100,000 and a recording contract with the Street Records Corporation music label.

"Universal's strategy is to become actively involved in all areas of media where our artists and our music are present," said UMG CFO Nick Henny in a statement. "Loud.com is quickly emerging as one of the leading new online ventures that successfully reaches the new generation of international and multicultural youth."

The amount of the investment was not disclosed. Loud.com (which also operates under the domain name battlerap.com) is operated by SRC, a venture lead by Loud Records founder and hip-hop entrepreneur Steve Rifkind. UMG is no stranger to Rifkind's bedside, as the parent of his SRC record label.

"When Steve and I started Loud.com, our hope was to create a virtual home for hip-hop fans around the world," said Loud.com co-CEO Joseph Safina. "To our delight, it has quickly evolved into an online community, competition, A&R site and marketing company all rolled into one." ®

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