In 2010 the group grossed a whopping $81.6 million from touring alone, more than any other act besides Bon Jovi, U2, AC/DC and Lady Gaga. Based on a nightly gross of about $1 million, it’s safe to say the Peas take home $250,000 to $350,000 per concert.
So it may come as a surprise to learn what The Black Eyed Peas are earning for their halftime show at Super Bowl XLV: Nothing.
That’s right. Fergie, will.i.am, and those other two guys whose names you can never remember (for the record, they’re called Taboo and apl.de.ap) will not be receiving a performance fee for their efforts in Dallas. So why the charity? Because the acts that play Super Bowl halftime shows traditionally don’t get paid. A better question: Why have dozens of other high-profile acts agreed to play the Super Bowl for free?
The simple answer is exposure. At first glance, that sounds preposterous. Turn on any pop radio station and you’ll be hard-pressed to go more than seven minutes without getting the echoey, bass-laden, auto-tuned strains of The Black Eyed Peas firmly implanted in your brain. A remarkable 1.3 million people paid to see the Peas in concert last year alone.
But think about the Super Bowl. In 2010 a record 106.5 million peoplewatched the New Orleans Saints defeat the Indianapolis Colts, and this year’s audience is expected to top that — making it the most-watched show in American broadcast history. Even if 6.5 million people get up to go to the bathroom at halftime, there will still be 100 million pairs of eyes on The Black Eyed Peas.
“The platform that these artists are given can’t be replicated,” says Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, one of five industry sources who confirmed that halftime performances are pro-bono. “It’s a basic financial equation. What would you have to do as a band to have a conversation with a third of the country? I think the arrangement makes a lot of sense.”
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