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Why Beyonce Isn’t Getting Paid For Her Super Bowl Halftime Gig

Stop The Presses!

By Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Forbes Staff

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(photo: AP, J. David Ake)

Beyoncé earned an average of $70 million each year from 2009-2011, dipping to $40 million last year as she and husband Jay-Z welcomed daughter Blue Ivy into the world. When the Grammy Award winner hits the road again, presumably later in 2013, she’ll likely return to grossing more than $2 million per night.

And yet, when she takes the stage at the Super Bowl halftime show in New Orleans this Sunday, she won’t be getting a penny for her efforts.

“We do not pay,” said NFL spokesperson Greg McCarthy in an email. “We cover all expenses associated with the performance.”

Those costs—which include travel, lodging, setup, fees for backup dancers and musicians—should add up to $600,000 or more, which is certainly significant. But so is playing without receiving a performance fee. So why did Beyoncé agree to play the Super Bowl for free?

Her spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment for this story, but others point to two main reasons. First, there’s the precedent set by Madonna, the Black-Eyed Peas and others who’ve done gratis halftime shows. Second, and also responsible for her predecessors’ decisions, there’s the fact that the halftime show is the most-watched musical event of the year.

“There is not anything like it,” says Derek Jackson, cofounder of advertising agency Glu. “The Super Bowl, for an artist, is considered the medium of all mediums. You can’t beat it from a promotional standpoint. You garner so many eyeballs at one time.”

How many eyeballs, exactly? About 112.5 million in the U.S. alone last year. And even though Beyoncé’s next album isn’t out yet—just a recent Destiny’s Child release—she stands to profit immensely, as others have in the past.

Though Madonna’s halftime performance last year led to 165,000 digital downloads of her new song “Give Me All Your Luvin” the week after the game, it also led to a stratospheric increase for purchases of classic hits like “Vogue” (+1,033%) and “Like A Prayer” (+2,437%).

Of course, there’s another reason that Beyoncé might be willing to sing for a song: Pepsi, which returns this year as the halftime show sponsorship after inking a new deal with the NFL, signed her to a $50 million deal late last year.

“This is a Pepsi event, so I’d have to make the argument that this was in her deal,” says Jackson, who brokered Nicki Minaj’s multimillion dollar agreement with the beverage company. “I can’t imagine it being any other way … What better way to make it known to the world that Beyoncé is the face of Pepsi?”

The company’s representatives say the performance wasn’t part of her deal, but they’re certainly happy to have her on board.

“While we are sponsors of the show, the terms of Beyoncé’s appearance are solely between her and the NFL,” says Pepsi spokesperson Andrea Foote. “While we were consulted as a sponsor, we did not make any stipulation that she be the performer. We obviously have our own long-standing relationship with Beyoncé and are thrilled that she will be the performer our first year returning as sponsor of the event.”

Regardless, Beyoncé will earn double-digit millions from Pepsi in the coming years, and it seems unlikely that she’d have wanted to rock that boat by declining such an important gig—even if she’s not getting paid for it.

For more on the business of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, check out my book Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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