Undiscovered musicians have always been in the unwelcoming position of choosing to perform for exposure rather than pay. Too often, musicians, like myself, are often asked to perform for little or no pay (some even requiring us to pay to play, but that’s another discussion) for someone else’s enjoyment. You always hear of famous musicians performing for charity, but what about performing for free to hundreds of millions of people at the Superbowl Halftime Show? This apparently has happened to Bruno Mars, one of the biggest pop stars to come into the spotlight in recent years.
Digital Music News is reporting that Mars was paid zero dollars for his performance at the Pepsi Superbowl Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday. Mars was joined on stage with a brief appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and performed their hit “Give It Away” together, and it appears the RHCP weren’t paid either.
Even though the Superbowl is one of the largest stages in the world, does it still mean that the performers shouldn’t be paid when the NFL and Fox are clearly making millions of dollars per minute from the Superbowl? A 30 second ad costs four million dollars each, while each winning team player earned $92,000 salary and each losing team player earned a salary of $46,000 for the game.
NFL Director of Programming Lawrence Randall thinks the exposure outweighs the monetary benefits when he commented to Time, “We’re putting someone up there for 12 and a half minutes in front of the largest audience that any television program garners in the United States. It’s a pretty good deal. It’s the famous win-win for both parties.”
“It’s a pretty good deal. It’s the famous win-win for both parties.”
Sure, it gave both acts huge exposure. Deadline reports that 111.5 million viewers tuned into last (Sun) night’s Superbowl, making it the most watched TV show in US history. However, 115.3 million viewers tuned into the Mars & Chili Peppers halftime show, beating out what Beyonce did last year with 110.8 million and besting the previous halftime record that Madonna set in 2012 with 114 million viewers. Yesterday’s rating of 44.5/70 was up 12 percent from last year’s game making it the highest in Superbowl history.
Today, Mars is sitting at the top of the iTunes albums chart and holds two other spots in the Top 10 while the Chili Peppers have their Greatest Hits sitting at number six. While many may think each act is raking in the dough from these downloads, remember that their labels own the recordings and will be paid first, along with iTunes themselves, before the artists and songwriters are even compensated. Therefore, the exposure may enhance their careers, but not necessarily their pocketbooks and when a musician makes performing and recording their career, every cent matters.
I’ve even been told that others think that “musicians are not deserving of payment” for their services. I think these people are not deserving of their paychecks for the work they perform for their employers and/or clients. Performing is a job and should be treated as such and compensated fairly! Studies suggest employees who are underpaid tend to perform poorly. However, musicians who are underpaid or not paid at all, walk out on stage night after night and tend to give the best performance of their career! Sounds like the roles need to be reversed!
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.