How much do Super Bowl performers get paid? Less than you think.

With NFL players shooting in a average salary $2.7 million a year, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the musical superstars who lend their talents to the biggest game of the year also make millions, but you’d be wrong.

The surprising truth is that halftime performers don’t get paid to perform at the Super Bowl. Per league policy, the NFL covers all costs related to the production of the halftime show, but performers do not take home a paycheck (although the NFL pays the bill for their trip). The cost of production, even for a segment of only thirteen minutes, can be exorbitant, with the performance of 2020 from Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. costing the NFL about $13 million. This figure funds the paychecks of up to 3,000 staff members involved in the production, as well as complicated technical elements of the performance, such as a 38-part collapsible stage or the massive audio equipment rolled on 18 carts. Don’t even tell us about the cost of awe-inspiring shows, like Katy Perry entering the stadium on a mechanical golden lion, or Lady Gaga parachuting in her performance from the rooftop.

So what’s in it for performers? Something familiar to freelance writers around the world: exposure. Performing on one of the biggest and most televised stages in the world can turn into real financial gain in the form of increased music sales (nearly 100 million viewers listening last year’s game, and even that was the lowest odds since 2007). When Justin Timberlake performed in 2018, his music sales Pink 534% on the same day; as for Lady Gaga, sales of her digital catalog soared 1000% following her 2017 performance.

That said, accepting the gig isn’t the guaranteed PR booster it once was. As the NFL continues to discourage players from protesting racial inequality, artists like Rihanna and Cardi B have turned down the gig in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, while those who have accepted it, like Maroon 5, have entered the collimator of petitions. requiring they bow out to boycott the NFL.

And lest you think the headliners are the only artists working for free – surely the companion dancers should get paid, right? – think again. The NFL has been criticized for not paying some halftime show dancers, calling them “volunteers” instead. At last year’s halftime show featuring The Weeknd, all the dancers rushed onto the field in the same costumes, but not everyone received the same treatment. According to a investigation speak Los Angeles Times“paid dancers received $712 for the day of the show and $45 per hour for their rehearsal time, as well as a $30 per diem and a $250 COVID allowance if a dancer had to report to a clinic for a test on a non-working day. Unpaid dancers sat in the stadium stands until two o’clock in the cold waiting to rehearse as their paid counterparts spent that time in the green rooms.”

This year, the NFL seems poised to make the same error in judgment once again. For a halftime show featuring NFL producers Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem recruited hundreds of “volunteers” to participate in 72 hours of unpaid rehearsals. After backlash from the dance community and SAG-AFTRA (the union representing professional dancers), executives from Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which will produce the halftime show, defended their methods, saying that they had hired 115 paid dancers. But they are stage dancers – whether the “field actors” will be paid remains to be seen.

Is it time for headliners and professional dancers to team up against the NFL? We will let you be the judge.

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Colleen D. Ervin