Business Matters: Why Did Bjork's Kickstarter Project Fail?

Internationally famous Icelandic artist Bjork may have been the most high-profile musician to undertake a project on Kickstarter, the platform that allows artists to raise money from fans for their projects. Her project most likely became the biggest Kickstarter failure when it was canceled Thursday after just £15,370, or 4% of total funding, was raised in 10 days.

Failure is not uncommon on Kickstarter. Just 55.8% of the service's music campaigns launched last year were successfully funded. But Bjork’s campaign was uncommon in a number of ways.

-- She is a major-label artist. Nearly all artists raising funds on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms are totally independent or on independent labels. I think the jury is out on whether or not fans will wholeheartedly support artists on crowdfunding platforms who are perceived to have the support of record labels. There's a certain do-it-yourself aspect inherent to crowdfunding that's antithetical to corporate backing.

-- The project was for Android and Windows Phone versions of the Biophilia app, which has been out for a year-and-a-half for iOS devices. Thus, the project lacked the kind of exclusivity that should get people excited. Instead, Android users and the few Windows Phone users may have been reminded they were left out the first time around.

-- Bjork does not appear to have the same kind of “close” (as close as the Internet allows) a relationship as that enjoyed by an artist as, say, Kickstarter legend Amanda Palmer and her fans. Case in point: Bjork's Twitter usage. Bjork has tweeted three times in 2013 -- not one of them mentioned the Kickstarter campaign -- and 29 times in the third quarter of 2012. Most were one-way messages (“presale begins now,” “preorder a copy,” etc.) that show a lack of conversation with fans. It’s hard to imagine an artist forging a close relationship with her fans these days without being active on Twitter.

-- The funding goal was an incredible £375,000 pounds. That might actually be the cost of creating the app, but it’s certainly an intimidating sum of money. After a few days that figure become even more intimidating -- pledges were not flowing in and it became clear the project would not hit its funding goal. Public Enemy’s 2010 Sellaband campaign didn’t meet its $250,000 goal, but it met its second goal of $75,000. Amanda Palmer's goal was just $100,000 when she raised $1.2 million.