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Quest for the Internet's HipHop Audience

BET.com (http://www.bet.com), a large website focused on the African American market, and 360HIPHOP.com ( http://www.360HIPHOP.com) announced this week that they are in discussions for the possible acquisition of 360 by BET. If the agreement is approved by the board of both companies, the sites will merge, but continue to operate under their distinct names. BET will continue to serve the African American community as a whole, while 360HIPHOP will focus on the youth hiphop market.

BET.com was launched in Feburary of this year with an initial investment of $35 million, and an impressive roster of investors that included BET Holdings, the parent company of Black Entertainment Television Networks, Microsoft and USA Networks. They currently offer several radio stations on their site, but 360HIPHOP will help them reach a younger audience. 360HIPHOP seeks to be a vehicle of positive change, and uses colorful multimedia to approach and discuss a wide range of issues facing its audience.

"Our goal has always been to be the #1 online destination for hip-hop and I believe this partnership would enable us to do that. We want to align with a company with the right strategic resources and think that BET.com is a great fit," said Russell Simmons, Chairman and Founder of 360HIPHOP.com. In addition to founding 360HIPHOP, Simmons is also the founder of a successful music label -Def Jam.

Another hiphop content site has also decided to publicize their launch this week. The Source, a popular print music magazine, has teamed up with Etensity, an eBusiness professional services firm, to design THESOURCE.COM (http://www.THESOURCE.com). THESOURCE.COM. consists of ten separate sections that include a hip-hop archive, interviews with top hip-hop artists, and The Source's own radio station on the web. The site is made up of a network of extensive web sites designed to create a community of members, and features not only music, but also culture and politics.

After UPN aired 'The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 2000 on August 29, the site recorded 1.6 million hits. Additionally, with the lure of free merchandise, 16,000 new users registered to become members in the twelve hour period following the awards.

The two sites have similar design, content and look. Hiphop fans can explore and decide which they like best.

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