Musicians slam ‘pay to play’ Super Bowl policy

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A union representing musicians across the United States and Canada is blasting the NFL over reports that it is asking would-be performers at next year’s Super Bowl halftime show to pay for an appearance during the coveted gig.

The NFL traditionally does not pay performers at the Super Bowl’s halftime show, which has brought major publicity to music luminaries including The Rolling Stones, Prince and Janet Jackson, whose 2004 “wardrobe malfunction” touched off a national scandal.

But this year, the league is reportedly asking performers to pony up a cut of their post-show tour earnings. The American Federation of Musicians describes the request as a “pay to play” scheme unbecoming of a league that is already rolling in profits.

“It’s not like the NFL and its Super Bowl organizers don’t have any money and can’t afford to pay for halftime show performances. It’s about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of great musical entertainment and those who create it,” AFM President Ray Hair said.

A spokesman for the NFL did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the criticism.

The NFL has reportedly narrowed its list of preferred acts for the 2015 event to Coldplay, Rihanna and Katie Perry.

AFM, a member of the AFL-CIO, intends to take up the issue with the labor group’s Department of Professional Employees, which also includes the NFL Players Association. 

“You can find kickback schemes like this coming from unscrupulous bar and nightclub owners, but for the NFL to descend to such depths would be unconscionable,” Hair said.