‘The Voice’ Official Rulebook: Did Bryan Olesen Actually Break Any Rules?

Following Bryan Olesen’s successful audition on The Voice, fans are scrutinizing the rulebook wondering if there are any limitations for artists who are already marginally famous. Olesen is a founding member of the band VOTA, which is still making music today, and guitarist for the Christian rock band Newsboys from 2004 to 2006.

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Olesen chose to join John Legend’s team, but some fans seem to think he may have an unfair advantage due to his level of fame. Some questioned whether The Voice was actually for emerging artists or not, while others called out the coaches for not acknowledging Olesen’s established career.

“Like… I don’t understand.. Dan&Shay said ‘I was expecting to turn around and see someone famous’… well yeah you literally did..” one person wrote on Twitter/X. Others shared the sentiment, commenting, “So [GRAMMY] nominated artists are allowed to compete?” and “Just a little confused how this is allowed.. he is already famous..”

[RELATED: ‘The Voice’ Fans up in Arms After GRAMMY-Nominated Singer Is Allowed to Compete]

We Took a Look at The Voice Audition Rules to See if Bryan Olesen Actually Broke Any

Looking at The Voice Audition Eligibility guidelines, there doesn’t seem to be any specific mention of a contestant’s level of skill, fame, or any past music careers. Essentially, the show chooses auditions based on raw talent and potential. There’s sure to be something in the unofficial rules about choosing contestants with interesting stories and backgrounds as well, because this is still television, after all. However, the rules seem to be simple and clear-cut.

While the rules state that the Producer (NBC, or whoever produces and runs The Voice, that part is unclear) can change the requirements at any time, these are the general Eligibility Requirements in layman’s terms. For prospective contestants, let’s call them “artists.”

Audition Rulebook

  1. Artists must prove, with up-to-date and adequate documentation, that they reside in the U.S. and can legally work in the country.
  2. Artists must be at least 13 years of age by May 31, 2024 (for the next season of The Voice). Parents or legal guardians must be present on all documentation for artists 13 and under, but those who are “significantly older than 13” are encouraged to apply. There is no upwards age limit.
  3. Artists may not be or plan to become a candidate for public office until one year after the initial broadcast of the final episode of their season.
  4. Artists must voluntarily submit to and pass a background check.
  5. To accept the invitation to participate in auditions, artists must complete and return the Participant Agreement, Release and Arbitration Provision (which essentially means artists must agree to settle any disputes out of court), as well as all other paperwork and documentation required in a timely manner. Artists must also voluntarily submit to physical and psychological exams to determine if they are in good physical and mental health.
  6. If selected to participate, artists must agree to travel to and live in undisclosed locations for a period of several weeks during June 2024 to December 2024.
  7. Artists may not participate if their presence would cause a conflict of interest, impropriety, or the appearance of impropriety. The Producer will take into account if the artist, members of their immediate family, or anyone living with them have been within the past two years “employees, officers, directors or agents” of NBCUniversal Media, MGM Television, UAMG Content, or any of their affiliates; any person involved in the production or distribution of the show; any person involved in the show’s advertising; or any person affiliated with those providing goods, services, or prizes on the show.

In that last rule, there are instances where the Producer may disqualify anyone they feel is “sufficiently connected with the production, administration, judging, or distribution of the Program” in a way that would create a conflict of interest or impropriety.

Bryan Olesen doesn’t seem to be breaking any of these rules. However, it’s his level of fame that makes fans believe he may have an unfair advantage in the competition. Will his fame and experience catapult him to the top? It’s possible, but it’s also possible that the competition could turn the other way for him as well. It’s still too early in The Voice to know what the outcome will be.

Featured Image by Trae Patton/NBC

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  1. This reminds me of American Songwriter selecting an actor and musician who has already been on a recent major national TV show to win their “Wonderful Write” promotion, with a song that’s already being used in a movie! Probably not technically against the rules, but disheartening at best, with no disrespect intended toward the artist. But there is little doubt in my mind that AS knew this beforehand, and less doubt that it was somehow a factor in their decision. Perhaps it’s pie in the sky thinking, but ideally the point of such contests and awards should be to seek out new talent and reward merit alone, not grease careers or surreptitiously promote corporate product. I guess that’s just not the world we live in. Sad.

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