The Real Reason Why the NFL Doesn’t Pay Super Bowl Halftime Performers

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The Real Reason Why the NFL Doesn't Pay Super Bowl Halftime Performers

From humble trumpets to trapeze tricks (re: Lady Gaga’s wild 2017 entrance ), the Super Bowl Halftime show has evolved since college marching bands were the main act. It’s home to the moments that launched a thousand memes (hi, left shark) and legendary performances by Beyoncé, the artist formerly known as Prince, and others.

Get your watch party snacks ready, because this year’s show is promising to be iconic. Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar will dominate the world’s largest stage at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA on Sunday, February 13, 2022. Deemed hip-hop royalty, the artists have 43 Grammys and 22 No.1 Billboard albums between them—ensuring this performance can’t come cheap. Except one thing hasn’t changed since the first halftime show in 1960: performers don’t get paid.

Why the NFL Does Not Pay Halftime Acts:

Photo credit: Focus On Sport

The words “Bruno Mars’ tickets,” “stadium tour,” and “free” don’t usually ever appear beside each other. Yet, just because a direct deposit won’t hit these celebs’ bank accounts doesn’t mean the NFL isn’t still shelling out millions. Instead, the NFL might not cut performers a paycheck, they do cover expense and production costs that can exceed $13 million, according to a 2020 Reuters article. “We do not pay the artists. We cover expenses and production costs,” said NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter to Forbes in 2016.

Additionally, per Forbes, performers do receive a union scale see: “a fraction of the six- and seven-figure sums these acts have banked on a nightly basis.” Plus, consider what else they gain by performing on the Super Bowl stage.

It Still Pays to Play:

If you’ve ever taken an unpaid internship, the phrase “It pays in exposure” might sound familiar. But instead of “valuable experience,” these artists take home massive album sales after performing at the halftime show.

According to Billboard, J. Lo and Shakira saw a 1,013% sales increase (Billboard) of the 14 songs they performed during their combined act in 2020. Justin Timberlake rocked our bodies and the charts when his 2018 performance secured his fourth Billboard No.1 album, “Man of the Woods.” Even Maroon 5, whose 2019 halftime show was harshly criticized, saw the band’s sales spike 434%.

Photo credit: Kevin Winter – Getty Images

Not to mention, artists drop the number of zeros from their usual invoice for the same reason companies will pay $6.5 million for a 30-second ad this year. The Super Bowl is the most-watched event on television, drawing millions of viewers each year. In 2015, it was the most-watched in TV history when 111.4M fans tuned in for Katy Perry’s set.

It’s an ideal time for artists to capitalize on upcoming tours, album promotion, brand deals, and BIG bragging rights. What do you think—is it fair Super Bowl performers don’t get paid for their shows?

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