Halftime show performers may not receive a paycheck for their high-profile sets, but the NFL does cover associated expenses
Rihanna may have put in the work, work, work, work, work at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, but, as is customary for the mid-game spectacle, she did so for free.
Though the famed halftime show often attracts the biggest names in music (everyone from Beyoncé to Bruce Springsteen has graced the stage), there’s actually no paycheck involved for the headlining act.
“We do not pay the artists,” an NFL spokesperson told Forbes in 2016. “We cover expenses and production costs.”
Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s vice president of communications, confirmed to Newsweek that the league does cover “all costs associated with the show” — and while artists don’t receive an appearance fee, they are paid union scale, which is a minimum wage guaranteed by a union contract.
For many, the exposure and the chance to perform before increasingly large crowds is well worth the journey; last year’s Super Bowl was watched by 112.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen and streaming data from NBC, and this year’s match-up was poised to pull in even higher ratings, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Artists often see a boost in sales immediately after the show, as well as the chance to increase their social media followings.
In a moment that’s since gone viral, Rihanna also touched up her makeup using a compact from her Fenty Beauty brand. She also topped off her beauty look with a new liquid lipstick, called the “MVP,” that launched online during halftime.
Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen’s manager, reflected on The Boss’s 2009 halftime show performance to Billboard, and recalled his initial meeting with the NFL.
“They gave me 10 minutes worth of bullet points about how big the Super Bowl is, it’s the No. 1 show on Jupiter and Mars, it’s No. 1 with women, it’s No. 1 with people who don’t brush their teeth. There’s $1 billion transacted — I remember them saying that,” he told the outlet in 2021. “‘I have one question: What do you get paid to be part of the biggest show in the history of the universe? What does the artist get?’ Earnings for the show for Bruce and the band: zero. But it was beautifully produced, Bruce and the band were sensational and we loved it. Until you’re there, you can’t comprehend how many people work on that show.”
The outlet reported that Springsteen was given a $1 million budget for his show — but in the years since, as the performances become bigger and bigger, some artists have taken to funding the shows out of their own pocket in order to ensure their vision is properly attained.
The Weeknd’s manager told Billboard that the “Blinding Lights” singer spent $7 million of his own money on production costs for his 2021 show, while a source close to Dr. Dre told Forbes that he spent a similar fortune perfecting his 2022 show.
This year’s Apple Music Halftime Show was a memorable one for Rihanna regardless of money, as she revealed during her performance that she is expecting her second child with rapper A$AP Rocky, making her the first pregnant woman to ever tackle the show.
WIRED reported that her performance — which saw her floating above State Farm Stadium on a suspended platform — required the help of 800 people, including 80 dancers and seven band members.
While Rihanna was not paid for her contributions, the professional dancers beside her were, at least according to a statement SAG-AFTRA gave the Los Angeles Timesin 2021.
“SAG-AFTRA and the producers of the Super Bowl Halftime Show have met and had an open and frank discussion, and have agreed that no professional dancers will be asked to work for free as part of the halftime show. 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,” the statement read. “We are grateful to Roc Nation, their producer and in particular our member Jay-Z, for their collaboration and commitment to professional artists. As a union, we believe all working participants should be paid and compensated for their labor.”
The update came after dancer and choreographers for the Weeknd’s show who joined the production as unpaid volunteers were forced to work alongside paid dancers.
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