Usher and other Super Bowl performers can still make a massive profit from the game, despite the salary being a lot lower than most would think.
LAS VEGAS — Usher is one of the most celebrated R&B artists in the world, with a just-released album and an upcoming national tour.
And he’ll be performing at the Super Bowl for free.
That’s right, for free.
That’s because the Super Bowl performers don’t really get paid by the NFL to perform. None of the performers slated to take part in the big game — Usher, Reba McEntire, Post Malone and Andra Day — will take home a salary for the day’s work.
But despite not getting a paycheck for the performance, Usher and the other Super Bowl performers can still make a massive profit from the game. Here’s how:
How much do Super Bowl halftime performers make?
Even without a check from the NFL, performers can still get massive exposure from their halftime show singing, which leads to an uptick in music sales and streaming.
Last year’s show featured Rihanna’s iconic performance while pregnant. She, like decades of halftime artists before her, saw a massive jump in music sales after the performance was watched by an estimated 115 million people — the most-watched television event in U.S. history.
According to data compiled by Forbes, Rihanna’s digital album sales climbed by 301%, while digital song sales surged by 390%.
The same thing happened in 2022, when five separate performers — Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem — sang. All of them saw a surge in music sales after their performance was watched live by an estimated 103.4 million people.
Snoop Dogg and Blige, who both released albums days before the Super Bowl, saw the highest gains, with streams of their music jumping to 143% and 132% from pre-game levels respectively, according to Billboard.
And that last part is where the similarities to Usher really begin.
Usher also released an album right before the Super Bowl, likely hoping the massive viewership for his Feb. 11 set will translate to more album sales.
“Coming Home” is Usher’s first solo album in eight years. It dropped Friday, Feb. 9, just two days before the big game.
He’s also planning a concert tour across the U.S. to support the album.
How much does the Super Bowl halftime show cost?
Although they won’t be putting up big money for performer salaries, the NFL still has a hefty bill paying for the expenses of the halftime show production every year.
Even for a set that usually lasts around 15 minutes, it’s arguably one of the most expensive performances to televise. Every light, firework or special effect can add thousands of dollars toward the final bill.
That final tally can sometimes be in the millions of dollars. For example, Esquire reports that the 2020 performance by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira cost $13 million to put on. Yahoo Finance calculated Lady Gaga’s 2017 set cost a pretty penny as well: over $10 million.
The Weeknd, who performed in 2021, likely offset some of his streaming profits because he reportedly dropped $7 million of his own money for the performance, and although the NFL has not confirmed the total price tag, Forbes estimates the show could have cost as much as $20 million.
NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy told Newsweek in 2022 that the league doesn’t pay halftime performers an “appearance fee, but the artists are indeed paid union scale.” But Newsweek reported that under the union agreement that would’ve been about $1,000 a day for the Jennifer Lopez and Shakira Super Bowl show.
Do other Super Bowl performers get paid?
Even without Usher, the lineup for the Super Bowl is stacked with talent.
Before kickoff, Reba will sing the national anthem, Post Malone will perform “America the Beautiful” and Andra Day will give a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
The NFL covers travel expenses for the artists, which is potentially an important plus when Las Vegas’ private plane parking situation is expected to be completely packed.
But other than travel and production costs, all of the performers singing at the Super Bowl for free. Whether they see a boost in sales after the fact, well, that’s up to the fans.