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Asking Bands to Play for ‘Exposure’ Taken to a New Level as a Report Says the NFL Is Asking Artists to PAY to Play Super Bowl Halftime

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The age-old argument of wanting music artists to perform for no pay, but for ‘exposure’ has been taken to a new, absurd level by the National Football League that is reportedly asking its three finalists for this year’s game to pay the NFL for the exposure that comes with playing the most watched event each year. What’s next? Making halftime a Pay Per View special for viewers?

I’ve railed on this topic before, so there’s no need to rehash it, but if somehow the NFL is successful in this campaign, it would set a terrible precedent for musicians big and small in the future I’m afraid.

One fact to point out that maybe not everyone knows is that in the past, the NFL has not paid any of the performers. The years The Who, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen played, they received no money from the NFL. When Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed for an estimated 115 million people watching last year, they didn’t get a dime. But in the past, the NFL has always covered all production costs for the stage, lights, sound, travel, hotel and food, etc., which can cost the league up to a million dollars.

A million bucks is a lot of money no matter who you are, but when the game generates almost a half BILLION dollars in revenue, network broadcast fees have gone through the roof, the cheapest ticket you can find for the game is about two grand, and on and on and on, you’d think that somewhere, they could stumble across the money to put on a show. In fact, the halftime show last year had more people watching than the game itself (112 million) But is the ‘exposure’ paying off in concert ticket sales and music sales for the artist?

Both Bruno Mars this year and Beyonce’ last year announced their tours Super Bowl weekend and put tickets on sale the day after the game, but both artists have been selling a lot of tickets to their shows before the Super Bowl as well. Same thing with this years three finalists for the halftime gig: Coldplay, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Personally if I was managing any of the three finalists, I’d tell the NFL to stick it. Paying a million dollars to the league for the right to play the Super Bowl Halftime, or paying their own expenses and travel would be ridiculous at this stage in their careers.

Maybe the NFL should go back to its roots and bring in a local marching band from an area high school or college to perform like they did in the first couple of years of the Super Bowl. Tickets can be $8, the game can be played in half-filled stadiums and broadcast fees can be a pipe dream.

Or here’s a better idea. The TV network airing the game is paying a LOT of money to carry it, but they’re also charging about $8 million dollars a minute for advertising in the game. Somehow I bet they could get a corporate sponsor to underwrite the cost of halftime. It’s already got a title sponsor, jack up that rate a bit and cover the million bucks, because if they honestly think any band or artist is going to pay a million dollars so they can play halftime, they might as well just run commercials and plan on the people at home (and in the stadium) taking a half hour bathroom and snack break.

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