Why Rihanna didn’t get paid for her Super Bowl halftime show performance


Kevin Mazur

Rihanna and her dancers performing at the Super Bowl halftime show.

Carly S.

Following months of anticipation from more than 100 million Americans, the 57th annual Super Bowl was held on Sunday, February 12th at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

While the majority of viewers were concentrated on the intense game itself, many leaned more toward pop singer Rihanna’s halftime show performance. The internet quickly blew up with memes consisting of the singer’s fans stating that it was “so nice of Rihanna to let the football game happen during her concert!” 

The halftime show began with Rihanna displaying her pregnancy bump in all its glory, which was the first time the expectancy of her second child was revealed to the public. Rihanna launched into the performance by standing on a platform that was lifted high above the stage while her 80 backup dancers stood on descending platforms and rocked their custom white-hooded Fenty puffers, cropped tanks and baggy pants. The 13-minute performance consisted of Rihanna blessing the crowd with her outstanding vocals while her dancers wowed everyone with their impressive choreography. It was concluded with her iconic 2007 hit “Umbrella.” In total, the show required assistance from 800 people, including seven band members and 80 dancers.

Considering the absurd number of viewers enjoying her performance as well as the amount of effort that went into making it happen, many assumed that the pop singer was rewarded with a generous paycheck. However, this was not the case at all.

According to NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter, the administration never pays the artists who perform at the Super Bowl. They do, however, cover the expenses and production costs required to bring the show to life. Additionally, NFL vice president Brian McCarthy stated that the artists are paid union scale, which is a minimum wage guaranteed by a union contract, but they do not receive an appearance fee.

What shocked millions was the fact that while Rihanna wasn’t paid for her contributions, her backup dancers were. According to a 2021 statement by SAG-AFTRA, the professional dancers were advised not to work or rehearse without compensation, which is fair considering the amount of labor they put in.

Even so, Rihanna put in a significant amount of labor as well, so why didn’t she get paid for her efforts?

In simple terms, artists who are granted the opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl are guaranteed exposure to millions of people across the country, which ultimately promotes their music and generates revenue. The Super Bowl halftime show is an entirely free strategy for music artists to advertise their work as well as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so there is no reason for the selected artists to complain. Given the amount of traction they receive from performing, it isn’t too surprising that compensation isn’t included.