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Why The Weeknd didn’t get paid for his Super Bowl halftime performance

He’s not the only halftime show performer who hasn’t received a paycheck

A sign for Super Bowl 2021 is framed by palm trees at Raymond James Stadium Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.
A sign for Super Bowl 2021 is framed by palm trees at Raymond James Stadium Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.
Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

The Weeknd likely did not receive a paycheck for his Super Bowl halftime show performance Sunday evening, the New York Post reports.

According to the site, this is nothing out of the ordinary as Super Bowl halftime performers, from Beyoncé to Bruno Mars, usually provide their services gratis.

In a 2016 interview with Forbes, NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter disclosed that, while the NFL helps cover expenses and production costs for the annual halftime show, the league does not pay the performers for their work.

So why do performers agree to do the show if they’re not getting paid for it?

Although the NFL doesn’t literally write out a check with an artist’s name on it, Super Bowl halftime show performers do receive payment in the form of exposure.

Now that might sound like a raw deal at first, but exposure at such a large scale typically translates to huge spikes in music downloads.

For example, according to Billboard, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira collectively sold 21,000 song downloads, an increase of 893%, the day after their Super Bowl performance in 2020. Looper reports that Lady Gaga’s sales increased over 1,000% after her 2017 performance and Justin Timberlake’s sales increased over 500% after his halftime show in 2018.

Something that sets The Weeknd apart from previous halftime show performers is the fact that he invested several million dollars of his own money into his show.

A representative for the singer told the New York Post that he “spent almost $7 million of his own money beyond the already-generous budgets (in order) to make (his) halftime show what he envisioned.” As previously reported by the Deseret News, the singer-songwriter stated he and his team “wanted to do something that (they have) never done before.”

Though it will take a few months of tracking sales figures to identify whether the singer’s performance pays out or not, Aaron Greenbaum for Looper predicts that The Weeknd will “more than recoup what he spent on the halftime show thanks to him putting all his heart and soul into (his show).”

While we wait to find out if the singer’s investment finishes in the red or green, we can relive his entire halftime performance here: