The Super Bowl is coming up on Sunday, February 11 and there's a lot to look forward to no matter where you fall on the whole "watching football for hours on end" thing. Specifically Usher's halftime performance, a giant showcase that'll pay tribute to Black artists who came before him and may feature a surprise guest or two.
The Super Bowl Halftime Show typically lasts about 13 minutes and is seen by over 100 million people around the world in real time. In other words: It's a massive mini-concert that makes the game much more fun. So you'd think performers would be getting a giant paycheck from the NFL. But nope!
Super Bowl Halftime Show Performers Literally Don't Get Paid
Before you write an angry letter to the National Football League, it's not just Usher. The NFL simply doesn't pay performers, like, ever. As a spokesperson bluntly put it to Forbes: “We do not pay the artists. We cover expenses and production costs.” Kay! Though, I guess they technically offer a “union scale” because they have to (but it's very little).
That said, the NFL and Apple do cover the cost of putting on the Halftime Show, which can be expensive. How expensive, you ask? Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's Halftime Show apparently cost the NFL $13 million.
Meanwhile, artists have been known to spend their own money making the production even better—both The Weeknd and Dr. Dre spent $7 million on their shows. In other words, some performers are technically losing money (at least up front).
Soooo...why would anyone say yes to this gig?
The Platform Still Makes It Worth It
To put it simply: Performing at the Halftime Show is the equivalent of getting a 13-minute commercial to promote your music to over 100 million people who are sitting around eating chips and dip (me). And artists end up cashing in as a result—at least based on post-show streaming numbers put together by various reputable outlets like Forbes and Billboard. On that note, let's take a look at how performing at the show has impacted artists' sales over the years:
Rihanna's Spotify streams increased over 640 percent after the 2023 Super Bowl.
Jennifer Lopez's Spotify streams increased by 335 percent and Shakira's spiked by 230 percent in 2020.
Mary J Blige's album sales increased 999 percent after the 2022 Halftime Show.
Maroon 5's sales jumped by 488 percent when they performed in 2019.
Lady Gaga's sales increased 1,000 percent after Super Bowl 2017.
Meanwhile, Rihanna brilliantly/flawlessly/ingeniously used the show to promote Fenty Beauty, which—according to the folks at Forbes Australia—generated $88.3 million in "media impact value."
On top of that, there's opportunity for artists to drop new music ahead of the Super Bowl and use halftime to promote it/drive sales, which Usher is doing by ingeniously dropping his album, Coming Home, on February 9:
He's also seamlessly scheduled tour promotion right around his Halftime Show, too:
Dancers Are Paid...but It Was a Whole Thing
The Los Angeles Times revealed that in 2021, there were both paid and unpaid dancers involved in the Halftime Show, a controversy that caused SAG-AFTRA to step in. Fortunately in January 2022, Deadline reported the union and producers worked out an agreement where “no professional dancers will be asked to work for free.”
“SAG-AFTRA will be advising our professional dancer members that they should not be rehearsing or working on the Super Bowl halftime show without compensation,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement. “We are grateful to Roc Nation, their producer and in particular our member Jay-Z, for their collaboration and commitment to professional artists.”
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