Lots of companies will make a fortune from The Voice, including broadcaster Nine (which can sell ads at high rates thanks to the weekly 2 million+ TV audience) and Universal (which signs up the winning artists). But it's only just becoming evident just how much coin Apple will also score via iTunes sales on the series. Here's how — and why fans shouldn't give Apple more than one bite of the cherry.
Ever since The Voice began back on April 15, tracks from each round have been on sale on the iTunes store, at the regular Australian price of $1.69 a song (Apple gets about 50 cents of that), and several have sold in sufficient quantity to make the official ARIA charts. This week has seen the first track from the show reach the Top 10 (Lakyn Heperi's 'Big Jet Plane'). A lot of those tracks will drop like a stone the following week, until the show finishes, I expect we'll see Voice numbers dominating the local charts.
That's already a nice source of income from iTunes, but with the live rounds beginning from Monday this week, Apple has a radically expanded opportunity. If you download the featured track from a competing performer from iTunes in the week after its broadcast, that counts as two votes for your preferred performer. (You don't even have to wait for the performance to appear: all the tracks are uploaded in studio versions prior to the live broadcast.)
Even more astonishingly, you can do that more than once. "Each customer is limited to 20 votes per artist per week," iTunes notes on the main Voice page, meaning you can download the same track 10 times. Some artist track pages inaccurately state you're limited to 10 votes per artist per week, but the official site spells out the rules fully:
A maximum of ten (10) Eligible Song purchases, per Artist, by an individual iTunes user (constituting a maximum of twenty (20) votes) will be counted in the Vote Results.
If you're insane enough to want to vote that way, you'll pay $16.90, and Apple will take home $5.07. I don't assume every viewer will do that, but TV talent quests invariably see dedicated fans spend up big on texting repeatedly for their favourite acts. I bet this won't be any different.
If you're keen on supporting a particular contestant, there are definitely cheaper ways of doing it. I'd recommend Facebook, since you can vote once a day at no cost at all. If you're determined to spend actual money, phone or texting voting costs 55 cents a time — which still means you can score three votes for the same price as one download worth two votes. That's the logical way to go with such largely illogical behaviour.
If you worship a particular performer, then downloading their track once makes sense. But don't pay over the odds by downloading repeatedly on the same account. You'll get less bang for your buck.