In between halves of the Super Bowl since 1993, some of the world’s favorite music artists have taken center stage to dance, sing, shout, and spark conversations about their performances.
The Super Bowl’s halftime show has emerged as a national spectacle along with the game itself. Iconic artists like Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Madonna, and Rihanna have added to the entertainment value of the big game. This Sunday, Usher will have the chance to do the same.
And since the league’s top game draws a major cash flow, that means those artists come away with some of that money, right? The answer may surprise you.
How Performers Get Paid for Super Bowl Shows
Believe it or not, the league office and the Super Bowl committee do not pay the artists for their appearance at halftime.
Rihanna was not given money from the aforementioned parties for Super Bowl 57 after gracing the stage at State Farm Stadium.
Neither were the six headlining performers of Super Bowl 56 in Inglewood — Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem — given a paycheck from the NFL. All six also weren’t paid through Pepsi, who sponsored the halftime show.
Does this mean Usher won’t earn any money at all, even from Apple Music, the sponsor of this year’s halftime show? Not exactly.
Instead, each halftime performing artist earns their money via a union scale.
How the Union Scale Works
Regardless of what songs Usher will sing inside Allegiant Stadium, the union scale will cover the fees for Usher’s appearance.
That means a paycheck of approximately $1,000 according to Forbes. Entertainment attorney Lori Landew explained why the artist’s opt for the union scale.
“Some of those artists do not see their appearance as a political statement, nor do they see the show as a cultural battleground, but rather view their live performance as an opportunity to entertain an enthusiastic crowd and to share their music and their talent with millions of viewers,” Landew said to Forbes in her 2019 interview ahead of Super Bowl 53.
But were there artists who were offered a different paycheck instead of the union scale? It turns out, the league tried to ask for money from some of the artists themselves.
Katy Perry, who was the halftime performer for Super Bowl 49, was one who was asked to pay for her appearance. She declined for this reason:
“I don’t want an asterisk by my name for playing the Super Bowl for the rest of my life,” Perry told Forbes. “I want to be able to say I played the Super Bowl based on my talents and my merit, thank you very much.”
Where the Real Money Is Made After Halftime
Now we dive into the other primary reason why the league and SB committee opts to not pay the artists. Those performers will be earning a sales boost in their music streams anyway.
Thanks to streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify, each halftime performer has witnessed a spike in their music streams from fans. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were two artists who saw their streams jump — Lopez by 335% and Shakira by 230%.
Even National Anthem performer Demi Lovato saw her music streams increase by 31%. Meanwhile, halftime guests of that Feb. 2020 Super Bowl, J Balvin and Bad Bunny saw their own music stream increases at 16% for Balvin and 24% for Bunny.
KEEP READING: How Long is the Super Bowl Halftime Show?
In this format, the higher the stream increase, the better the money will be for those music artists. Justin Timberlake currently has the highest percentage increase from any SB halftime performer — his Super Bowl 52 show witnessed a 534% spike in his streams.
No matter what songs Usher will perform, the R&B legend is more than likely going to have a flock of people hit up Apple, Spotify, or even Pandora to boost his streaming percentages and ensure he won’t be settling for just a $1,000 appearance via the union scale.
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