How much do Super Bowl halftime performers get paid? It's way less than you think

Usher will perform during the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show, but the NFL certainly won't be paying him for it.

Michael Jackson File Images
Michael Jackson File Images / Steve Granitz/GettyImages

Since the NFL partnered with Jay-Z's Roc Nation, the Super Bowl halftime show has become more diverse and more connected to the Super Bowl's host city. For example, Super Bowl LVI, which was played at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, featured a performance headlined by local legend Dr. Dre.

The Super Bowl LVIII halftime show at Allegiant Stadium will feature Usher, who has been among the most popular acts in Las Vegas in the past two years. In 2021, Usher's residency at the Colosseum At Caesars Palace grossed more than $12.9 million in ticket sales, and his subsequent residency at Park MGM grossed $54 million across 59 shows.

How much does the NFL pay artists for the Super Bowl halftime show?

So how much will the league pay Usher for his Super Bowl halftime show performance?

They won't pay him anything.

In fact, not only does the NFL not pay, but they even asked Rihanna, Katy Perry and Coldplay to pay the league for the privilege of performing at the halftime show in 2015.

"We don't pay the artists," NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter told Forbes. Per league policy, the NFL covers all costs related to the production of the show, but the talent is only compensated for travel expenses.

The cost of producing the 13-minute show varies, but it isn't cheap. The bill includes the paychecks of up to 3,000 production staffers, as well as complicated technical elements of the performance, such as a collapsible stage or massive transportable audio equipment. The 2020 performance by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira cost approximately $13 million, per Reuters. The production value can be so expensive that the NFL's production budget is almost never enough to meet the true production costs. The Weeknd and Dr. Dre both spent an additional $7 million of their own money to ensure the show fit their vision.

So why do artists perform at the Super Bowl?

For the artist, the Super Bowl halftime show is essentially a 13-minute Super Bowl commercial. Considering how much companies pay for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial, it's easy to see why the spot is so coveted. With a television audience of over 100 million viewers, the exposure can quickly convert into financial gain. When Justin Timberlake saw his sales rise 534% after he performed in 2018, Lady Gaga's sales spiked 1000% following her 2017 performance and Rihanna saw a 390% increase in digital sales. It's not a coincidence that Usher is releasing his new album, Coming Home, two days before the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl halftime show is also seen as an achievement. The coveted spot has become a part of culture and history ever since Michael Jackson played his three-song medley during the halftime show of Dallas' 52-17 thrashing of Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII. Jackson's halftime show drew more viewers than the first half of the actual game.

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