rifkind.jpgIt was announced yesterday (August 8), that Universal Music Group will be making an equity investment in social networking and music portal Loud.com. The site, which was revamped by Loud Records founder Steve Rifkind earlier this year, allows aspiring rappers to download professionally produced tracks for 99 cents a piece and compete with other visitors for a recording contract and a $100,000 cash prize. The online battles will be judged by a panel of celebrity producers including Cool & Dre, David Banner and Sha Money XL. “Universal's strategy is to become actively involved in all areas of media where our artists and our music are present,” said UMG vice chairman Nick Henny. “Loud.com has created an incredibly vibrant and growing on-line hip-hop community that features not only compelling user-generated content, but also the means for users to create their own music and compete for a record deal. Loud.com is quickly emerging as one of the leading new online ventures that successfully reaches the new generation of international and multicultural youth.”