Why Bruno Mars Didn't Get Paid for his Super Bowl Halftime Performance

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Super Bowl Sunday came and went, but people are still talking about pop star Bruno Mars. Why? Because he took center stage during the halftime show, reaching an audience upwards of 100 million, and gained exposure to people entirely outside of his demographic. And yet, according to, the singer didn't receive a single penny for his performance. 

What gives? 

Source: CNN

This is actually nothing new. No one's ever been paid for the halftime show. Not Michael Jackson. Not Paul McCartney. And though Mars got 12 uninterrupted minutes in front of the largest U.S. audience anyone is ever likely to get (save for a few awkward moments with the Red Hot Chili Peppers — what was that about?), the whole thing smells of the same excuse given to artists over and over again. "Do it for the exposure, kid." Or, "Don't you know art isn't worth money?" You'd think with millions of dollars being spent on ads, the NFL could afford to shell out something to halftime performers. 

Though the whole idea of insisting an artist work for free might not pass the sniff test, this might be one of the few occasions where "exposure" actually translates to moola. In fact, there's no "might" about it. Time and time again, in Super Bowl after Super Bowl, halftime performers have seen a significant uptick in sales in the days following the game. 

Last year, Beyonce brought in 104 million viewers and saw a 40% increase in sales in the week following the Super Bowl. The year before, Madonna performed for an audience of 112.5 million viewers and 10 of her digital hits saw a sales increase of 1,700%, collectively. 

This isn't a recent phenomenon, either. In fact, since halftime shows with major musical acts have been a thing, sales for the artists have increased. Take for instance The Who. The iconic rock band performed in 2010 and their Greatest Hits album saw a 50% increase in sales as a result. 

Going all the way back to 1993 when Michael Jackson dominated the halftime stage, his album Dangerous saw a sales increase of 83%. And in 1996, Diana Ross experienced a 74% sales increase after her performance. We could go on, but you get the idea. A chance at performing during the Super Bowl means big bucks for the record companies behind these artists. 

So, how did Bruno Mars fair? He did well. Really well. Not only did he manage to pull in 115.3 million viewers to make his the most watched Super Bowl halftime show ever, the performance also elevated his album sales 164%. His latest, Unorthodox Jukebox, claimed the top spot on the iTunes Top Albums chart with his debut album bumping up to the No. 3 spot and remix versions of those two albums sitting pretty at positions 8 and 17.

Individual tracks are doing great, too, with his hit "Locked Out of Heaven" claiming the sixth spot on the iTunes Top Songs chart and "Just the Way Your Are" at No. 7. According to Mashable, the singer's ticket sales for his "Moonshine Jungle World Tour" skyrocketed as well. 

Bruno Mars is definitely one of the most contemporary choices the NFL has made, but it definitely seems to have been a smart move. Viewership was up -- despite the fact the game was hardly a nail-biter -- and record sales went through the roof. Mars' label, Atlantic Records, and rivals in the industry are likely already plotting to get their acts on stage for next year's big game.

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Read/Post Comments (19) | Recommend This Article (35)

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  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 2:00 PM, oohbb wrote:

    Bruno Mars didn't get paid but the NFL did... by Bruno's record label ~

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 2:19 PM, jgjggggggj wrote:

    That would be because his whiny voice doesn't have universal appeal.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 2:24 PM, Svenstrom wrote:

    Seriously?? This is what you call "business analysis"? if you actually had a clue, what you would be reporting is that yes, Bruno Mars' sales were way up after his Super Bowl appearance but that increase in sales represented a whopping 25,000 singles downloaded.

    You would be reporting that paid downloading of music is a dead model before if ever got any traction and that streaming music has taken over.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 2:45 PM, lindillard wrote:

    The reason Bruno Mars and Chilli Peppers had so many viewers cause it was forced on us. I actually walked away for a break. The Superbowl's halftime show has been disappointing for the last three or four years. Bring back the marching bands.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 3:53 PM, luulu1999 wrote:

    Yea thanks to his tour tickets going on sale the day after the super bowl I got crappy seats!!1 :( but I LOVE Bruno!! If anyone wants to hook me up with two front row seats I am willing to take them for the Memphis TN date

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 3:57 PM, Noelle62386 wrote:

    Gee, he got paid $0.00, zip, zilch, nada.........? He still got over paid.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 5:00 PM, BeBop4000 wrote:

    Bruno Mars (and his band) made it into the top three Super Bowl Half Time performances with their tight, slammin' performance. The Chili Peppers were great too, working seemlessly in with The Mars Boys. I don't know what these other people who commented were watching, but I get the feeling nothing would shake their tree other than a Dwight Yokum favorite hits recording !

    Like The Seahawks, Bruno stepped up his game BIG TIME and made me a fan just from this performance alone!

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 6:01 PM, ugo wrote:

    Hopefully, if Fox has the Super Bowl again, they cut out the stupid halftime show and just bash Obama onstage during halftime.

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2014, at 7:49 PM, GodSmack4 wrote:

    Bruno mars was great and so were the Chili Peppers. I am a hard rock guy so the Peppers were the best part of the show. I did like the drum solo from Mars at the beginning. Very cool.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 3:23 AM, CraigL67 wrote:

    I blame Michael Jackson who started it all.

    How Michael Jackson Saved The Superbowl

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 6:32 AM, spuhworm wrote:

    "Fare," not "fair." Spell-check doing its job, editor not.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 8:28 AM, mobettahbob wrote:

    I totally agree that he was overpaid. What a bore.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 9:46 AM, DavidJ wrote:

    Well....the 5'2" little fellow should have been paid what his "performance" was worth....... $5.20.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 11:42 AM, ozzy wrote:

    the reason he wasn't paid was because he refused to do his tuba solo

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 12:12 PM, 092078mg wrote:

    lets dine in at tony romi restaurant and order a 21 dollar tuyo.

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 2:32 PM, firetamr628 wrote:

    this halftime show was the worse on in memory.....why does some pipsqeek that cant sing get 12 minutes uninterrupted and Tom Petty gets 5 minutes??I like the other poster walked away when it started,figure it was as good a time as any to use the bathroom.Bring back some classic rock for the halftime and make it entertaining for a change

  • Report this Comment On February 07, 2014, at 11:50 PM, RyanHogan wrote:

    The annual "Super Bowl Halftime Performer Didn't Get Paid" article.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 8:27 AM, thorbs wrote:

    Paul McCartney and his band were paid about 3.5 million for their performance in 05. Get your facts correct. Paul McCartney doesn't need exposure. He got paid!

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 8:36 AM, thorbs wrote:

    And bruno mars was fantastic. he is a great perfomer and very very successful artist. How could anyone not see that. I think he gained a lot NEW fans because of his performance.

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Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron offers insights and analysis of the latest news in The Business at The Motley Fool. You can follow her on Twitter @digitalinkwell.

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