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Sony, U invest in 360HipHop

Clothes, culture and politics next for music portal

360HipHop.com, the music portal launched last month by Def Jam Chairman Russell Simmons, on Wednesday received investments from Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group.

The participants declined to reveal the amount of the investment, although it is expected to be sizable because of Simmons’ long-standing ties to the music industry. The Island Def Jam Music Group label is a subsid of UMG.

“Russell has been both a pioneer and a leader in the development of hip-hop culture,” said Larry Kenswil, prexy of online music division eLabs at UMG. “We are very excited about extending our relationship with him to this new venture.”

Beyond music, Simmons wants Gotham-based 360HipHop.com to focus on clothing, culture and political issues. The site currently features a discussion of police brutality circling around the ongoing controversy in Philadelphia.

“With these investments from powerhouse entertainment companies Sony Music Entertainment and Universal, we are in a prime position to dominate the emerging online hip-hop marketplace,” Simmons said.

UMG and Sony have stepped up their online music efforts in recent months, either by starting ‘Net labels or by making investments in Internet companies. UMG bowed FarmClub.com to recruit talent online and Sony has given coin to ArtistDirect, Gig.com and Listen.com.

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