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NFL’s head of music explains the real reason artists don’t get paid to perform at the Super Bowl

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Lady Gaga performs at Super Bowl 51; Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

It doesn’t matter if you’re Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Lopez, The Weeknd or Eminem: When you perform at the Super Bowl halftime show, you don’t get paid. The NFL’s first head of music — who was just appointed in April — is coming clean about why that is.

Seth Dudowsky, who’s been with the league since 2013, tells Billboard, “The most valuable currency that exists in our culture at this point is a captive audience — people’s attention. It’s the hardest thing to capture, no matter who you are. So, the real value that our platforms offer is the promotional value of being up on that stage.”

Dudowsky says that in addition to the halftime show, which attracts “hundreds of millions of viewers,” performers also benefit from being featured in a huge marketing campaign and get payments to license their music for advertising purposes. Then, of course, there’s the inevitable sales bumps that comes after the game.

Using the 2020 halftime show, which featured Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, as an example of that, Dudowsky boasts, “When you look at Shakira’s ‘Whenever, Wherever’ becoming a No. 1 song [on iTunes] almost 20 years after it was released … in terms of value, that’s something that, for a lot of artists, isn’t even quantifiable.”

As for who might perform during halftime in 2023, Dudowsky says, “I can’t speak to where we are this year, but historically [when the season begins], we are starting to solidify plans with an artist with the goal of announcing in-season who the artist is.” 

No matter who it is, though, he says, “We’re already planning the production.”

Super Bowl 57 will be held February 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

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