Yesterday, word leaked that the NFL is asking artists to pay for the privilege of playing the Super Bowl halftime show. Now, a music industry attorney with close knowledge of those discussions has agreed to share details on those negotiations with Digital Music News. “[The NFL is] basically asking for what I’d estimate to be several million dollars to play the Super Bowl — at least that much — but they haven’t specified the exact amount nor have they specified the way that the money would be actually paid,” the attorney described.
“Basically [the NFL] is saying, ‘show us what you can give us while we consider you [for the halftime performance]’.”
The attorney noted that there have not been firm demand, and contract terms have not been exchanged. But it appears that the payment could be made in several ways, including an upfront payment that would likely start in the low millions. “But [the NFL is] also trying to figure out if they would make more by taking a percentage of something downstream, let’s say of the tour that starts right after [the Super Bowl performance] or an album released just after, merchandise, that sort of thing. So from the vantage point of the artist, you have to figure out if that makes sense, or if you ‘save’ money – and I say the word ‘save’ with hesitation – just paying upfront.”
Understandably, reactions to this proposal have been mixed within the music community, especially from managers and artists that feel that they are bringing massive value to the Super Bowl. In other words, if millions of users stick around to see a popular artist perform during halftime, why should you pay millions to the NFL for that?
The answer, according to the attorney, is that the NFL is starting to view the halftime performance as ‘free air time,’ when thirty seconds of airtime (ie, a commercial) goes for millions.
“They’re wondering, ‘who got more out of the last Super Bowl halftime, us or the Red Hot Chili Peppers?'”
Indeed, last year the NFL not only paid $0 to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for their performance, but they also stiffed the main attraction, Bruno Mars. And, collected an estimated tens of millions from halftime sponsors. But Bruno Mars an RHCP still agreed to play the gig, with the Peppers even agreeing to compromise their commitment to live performance. While the band jumped around onstage, onlookers realized that Flea’s bass was completely unplugged, part of a pre-recording demand imposed by the NFL.
More as it develops.