It's the season of the witch at Kickstarter.
Last week, the crowdfunding site launched its latest category, Magic and Divination, a "new home for all things mystical on Kickstarter." Think: tarot and oracle decks, astrology forecasts, and witchy accessories. These kinds of projects have existed on the platform for years, but this is the first time the platform has created a category for it. Psychic services (which includes occult-related products) are a $2.2 billion industry in the United States that has grown 0.5 percent on average since 2016 and is expected to increase 2.6 percent in 2021 alone, according to IBIS World.
The business of magic has proved increasingly profitable. Kickstarter told Inc. that the success rate for magic-related projects is disproportionately high (80 percent fully funded, compared with the site-wide average of 50 percent), and tarot projects alone had a 223 percent year-over-year increase in backings between 2019 and 2020. Outside of Kickstarter, astrology apps also grew 64.7 percent to become a $40 million industry in 2019, according to the mobile app growth service SensorTower. IBIS World notes that revenue for the psychic industry declined mildly during 2020, as early shutdowns closed nonessential in-person businesses, but compared with other service industries, it declined at a slower rate: In unprecedented times, people are likely to seek advice from those who claim they can see the future.
While most consumers may not take a tarot reading at face value, a majority of Americans (six in 10) do hold some kind of "New Age" belief, according to a 2018 report from Pew Research Center--so there is certainly an audience for witchy wares.
Kickstarter had a tough pandemic year in 2020, as it laid off 40 percent of its workforce after the number of projects on the platform--especially those that involved in-person performance or development of some kind--dropped by the same percentage. (The company's revenue is directly tied to the number of projects on the platform and how much they're getting funded). But in early 2021, things started to turn around: In the first two and a half months of the year, the platform saw 20 percent more funding for projects than in 2020, though there are still fewer projects on the platform than there were pre-pandemic.
It's unknown if the uptick at Kickstarter has anything to do with the surging popularity of divination, but sating people's search for answers may not be a bad idea.