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Super Bowl halftime performers aren’t making much for the performance itself but here’s how they make money

The Super Bowl is a celebration of American Football and an event where one of the most iconic concerts of the year takes place. Only 25 minutes, of which 12-15 are allotted for stage set-up, are used at halftime for a concert by one of the nation’s top artists. In 2024, that artist will be Usher.

But how much do stars get paid for their performance? You’d be surprised, but they get almost nothing. In 2016, Joanna Hunter said that the NFL doesn’t pay artists for their performances, only paying for expenses and production costs.

What makes artists participate in the Super Bowl halftime show is not a performance fee. They get paid a small fee, though, and Joanna Hunter forgot to mention it: it’s a payment by the SAG-AFTRA union rate, about $671 per performance. Add to that rehearsal time pay, which totals $1,750 per week, assuming a 35-hour work week. This, of course, is negligible for top stars.

But that’s not where they make their money. The real reason for participating in the Super Bowl halftime show is the outside income and influence artists gain by being on the stage of an event viewed by at least 100 million people.

So, how do artists make money?

While the stars don’t get paid directly for their performance during the Super Bowl halftime show, they receive significant benefits. First, there are additional advertising contracts with the star who will headline this year’s Super Bowl, for example. Usher, the star of Super Bowl 2024, got advertising contracts with brands like BMW and Uber Eats, who licensed his tracks. It’s also boosting the artiste’s popularity to become an even more coveted star of various ad campaigns. Usher has gotten advertising contracts with underwear brands and has become the new face of the men’s collection of the Skims brand, owned by Kim Kardashian.

According to Billboard, after a Super Bowl 2023 halftime show, Rihanna increased song sales by 390% last year and increased streams by 140% after her performance.

After a Super Bowl 2022 halftime show, Dr. Dre’s streams increased 108%, Eminem rose 39%, and Kendrick Lamar saw a 35% boost.

In 2021, Spotify said The Weeknd’s overall streams shot up nearly 220% on its platform in the U.S.

After Super Bowl 2020, Shakira’s music increased by 230 percent, and J-Lo’s music increased by 335 percent on Spotify compared to the week prior, according to a Spotify spokesperson.

Various ways to monetize halftime show

While the artists don’t make money for the halftime show in the form of royalties, neither they nor the labels incur the costs of putting on the show. This is usually the case, but The Weekend’s 12-minute performance in 2021 cost $17 million, $7 million of which was paid for by the artist himself to make the show what he would have wanted it to be.

Of course, such generosity is for a reason. Artists who participate in the Super Bowl halftime show are already stars with an audience of millions. And many are willing to invest their money in this show because the benefits will always be greater. For each artist, it is expressed differently. In addition to advertising contracts, Usher announced a big tour, an interest that only grows thanks to the Super Bowl. As well as his new album, Coming Home.

So, it’s a mutually beneficial partnership allowing the NFL to bring stars to entertain the public. The artists get to capitalize on auditions, subsequent publicity, or tours. Each artist finds their own way to monetize their performance. But the important elements remain the ability to leave their place in history. As Lori Landew, entertainment attorney, says, “Artists view their live performance as an opportunity to entertain an enthusiastic crowd and to share their music and talent with millions of viewers.”

At one time, the NFL wanted to charge artists for the opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. In 2015, Rihanna, Coldplay, and Katy Perry were offered such an offer. But all of them declined. As Katy Perry told Forbes, “I want to be able to say I played in the Super Bowl based on my talents and merit.”

The NFL abandoned the idea of getting money from artists, and now the partnership looks like a symbiotic one. The NFL gets the stars, and the stars get extra benefits. And it seems like that will never change.