Audiences got a small taste of Queen Bey's new album, Formation, and an even lengthier Coldplay set, promoting Head Full of Dreams, during this year's Super Bowl 50 Halftime show. But it left many fans wondering, who would give Beyonce a back seat to a Coldplay performance? Well, the band paid for it (in a sense).
Whether it's Bruno Mars, Katy Perry or Madonna, Super Bowl acts don't get paid to play the halftime show. The NFL covers travel expenses and show production costs but the artists themselves are performing merely for the exposure. With production costs alone ranging up to $10 million, the NFL has been asking to get even more from artists in compensation of indirect album and tour sales from performing during the game.
In 2014, a Wall Street Journal article provided insight on the NFL exploring the idea of artists paying the league for playing such a highly televised event. At the time, the NFL was asking potential Super Bowl 50 performers Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Coldplay to “contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour income” to the NFL, or to “make some other type of financial contribution.” It seems that only Coldplay this year was willing to play along.
According to Forbes, when Katy Perry was previously asked the similar pay-to-play request for the NFL, she replied:
I don’t want an asterisk by my name for playing the Super Bowl for the rest of my life. I want to be able to say I played the Super Bowl based on my talents and my merit, thank you very much.
The Super Bowl halftime show, which this year featured the return of Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars, drew a record 114.4 million viewers, and was the most watched televised event in U.S. history. That's more than double the size of the audience for the Academy Awards and four times the viewing for the Grammy Awards. With Coldplay kicking off their seventh tour in March 2016, it seems that all funds and resources were directed towards maximizing their airtime during this years game.
This is not the first time that many performers have utilized the halftime show to kick off a new album. In 2013, Beyoncé announced her "Mrs. Carter Show" tour and her album sales jumped 59% immediately following her performance. And in 2014, Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox went straight to No. 3 on the Billboard 200, after launching his online sales for the "Moonshine Jungle" tour following his performance.
But how do you determine what percentage of an artist's concert ticket and album sales are a direct result of the halftime show? A band like Coldplay may not even need the exposure of the NFL to increase ticket sales. The band grossed $171.3 million on their last tour in 2012 and was named Spotify's most-streamed band in 2014. So if they surpass previous album and ticket sales this year, how much of that would need to be accredited to the NFL?
With Beyonce and Bruno Mars making the trip all the way down to Santa Clara, just to be special guest performers, we can only imagine what Coldplay agreed to compensate the NFL to take the headlining spot.