Last year the Super Bowl, for the first time in history, did not pay its halftime show act. Bruno Mars’ performance agreed to the NFL’s new method of non-payment simply due to the immense publicity that performing at the most watched television show in America could offer and he, along with the NFL, seemed pretty happy with the outcome.
However, it appears that Mars’ acceptance of the Super Bowl’s lack of any money whatsoever has opened up a can of worms that the NFL thinks it can get away with. Now due to the sheer publicity offered, the NFL seems to think that performing at halftime at the Super Bowl is more of a privilege than a job offer and is asking performing artists to pay to perform there.
The Wall Street Journal has reported, in an article titled, “NFL to Coldplay: Pay to Play the Super Bowl,” that Coldplay as well as other prospective halftime performance candidates Katy Perry and Rhianna, have been contacted by the NFL and offered to play the show, at just a small cost to them. The reaction to this has been less than positive in Hollywood and America at large given the NFL made up the cost of last year’s Super Bowl halftime show with 90 seconds of ad time.
However, the Super Bowl’s affect on an artist’s sales is obvious. Bruno Mars’ performance last year was met with a 180% increase in sales of his album “Unorthodox Jukebox.” Due to that immense increase, some still hold the stance of the NFL at this time, but even more see it as the NFL treating human beings as nothing more than brands, their performances nothing but a commercial for the artist themselves. An anonymous industry executive said of the NFL’s handling of this situation, “They’re treating artists the same way they treat Pepsi. Pepsi is a brand. Beyonce is an artist.”
When questioned by The Wall Street Journal about the validity of the claims that artists will be forced to pay the NFL in order to perform at the Super Bowl, the NFL responded that “Contract arrangements with artists are strictly confidential. Our only goal with the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show is to put on the best show for the millions of fans who watch.”
Expectations are that a deal will be made to pay the eventual halftime entertainment before they agree to play the show. When asked about the situation, an anonymous television executive stated that “From a Harvard Business School 101 point of view it makes perfect sense, but the audacity of it is mind-boggling.”