Chance the Rapper’s team approached me about working with them on a project called Rapper Radio (rapperradio.com). Rapper Radio is a project from Chance with one goal in mind: Help independent artists gain exposure on both the radio and on digital platforms. This was a future goal, but they wanted to make sure the platform was prepared.
From Chance and his team:
Rapper Radio gives you the ability to be seen, heard, and known. With an original iteration that was strictly built for radio, Chance’s “No Problem” went number one with the help of the platform. Now, Rapper Radio serves as a multi-faceted platform where people can request their favorite songs to be heard on playlists and radio stations.
The very first version of Rapper Radio was built in-house by Chance’s team and partners at Nice Work. SquareSpace was the tool of choice to launch version 1 of Rapper Radio. “No Problem” went number one with the help of the platform, and DJ Khalid and Justin Bieber were also featured on the platform. The product was validated. There was immediate talk of how to make the platform more robust.
Chance’s team had grand designs for the initial launch, so not only was it successful as a platform, but it also looked great and was easy to navigate. But, the long-term goal of the platform was not only to gain exposure for his music. The team also wanted to help other independent artists and give them a path to be discovered.
As Chance began work on his new album (“The Big Day” 2019), the Nice Work team began working on rebuilding Rapper Radio. The goal was to make it easy to add artists, songs, radio stations, playlists (and the people maintaining them), and platforms. There was a lot of data to work with, which made getting great page load times a challenge.
I initially began working with my good friend Matt Varughese and the Nice Work team when they had some killer designs, but they weren’t sure if their animation and out-of-the-box thinking could be represented well on the web. The designs were for chanceraps.com. I quickly put together a demo showing how the team’s design and concept could work and look. That direction was eventually adopted. That was when Matt and the group approached me about working on Rapper Radio.
There was already a second version in testing built on Firebase. Once again, the team’s design and work were outstanding. However, with a large amount of data, there was an issue with performance. The load times for the site were north of 8 seconds. Additionally, the Nice Work team wanted to ensure it would be easy to add new artists, playlists, providers, and radio stations.
The team wanted to improve performance, improve ease of use, and launch the platform in a short time frame.
As soon as I saw the existing version of the site, I immediately sat down and began mapping out the data. The data set was extensive, and I wanted to make sure I had a good understanding of what was there and how it would relate. After sketching it out, I was able to see that we could build this with no-code tools.
With time running short, we made Webflow the platform of choice for two reasons. First, we knew that data structure could work well and we would be guaranteed great performance despite the large number of data points. Second, as I stated before, a big selling point for the team was getting a platform that made editing and adding content easy. Nothing is better at this than Webflow. Taking the original designs and rebuilding them was the most natural part, then it was finding a way to make sure that the page where all the artist information was being displayed would pull all the correct data and that it was easy to update. With that in mind, the requirements for the project were:
The CMS database setup was crucial to this build and was central to every piece of how the new version of the platform would work and function. There are eight total Collections, or CMS tables, with this site.
But, the team had been working with an incredible developer in Abi Noda who had created a small custom app to keep count and sync with the Webflow Collection. Taking this approach would ensure that the site wouldn’t run into any issues with the Webflow API rate-limit during high-traffic periods.
The result of this project was a pleased Chance the Rapper, a happy Nice Work team, and a new platform with increased performance. Compared to the Firebase version of the site, the Webflow version of the site loaded around 7 seconds quicker. The Nice Work team can easily update the platform data, and we were on track to add future functionality with other no-code tools.
You can see images of the project above, and you can see the live project here: rapperradio.com
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