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How Bruno Mars Got the Super Bowl 2014 Halftime Show

Jan 31 2014, 1:30pm CST | by

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How Bruno Mars Got the  Super Bowl 2014 Halftime Show

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How Bruno Mars Got the Super Bowl 2014 Halftime Show

2013 30 under 30: Music

With his halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVIII, Bruno Mars is set to join the likes of Paul McCartney, Prince, U2, MadonnaBruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson in the pantheon of acts who’ve graced the big game’s stage.

So how did the 28-year-old from Hawaii land the gig? He told FORBES the whole story during an interview for our annual 30 Under 30 issue, which hit newsstands earlier this month. It might surprise some to learn that the NFL reached out to Mars first, not vice versa.

“We just got that phone call and they started scoping me out,” he says. “They were coming to my shows, I guess, and they popped the question. It’s one of those things where I feel like it’s early on in my career, but … it’s definitely something on a bucket list. It’s the biggest stage ever. It’s something you’re not gonna say no to.”

As is the custom with Super Bowl halftime acts, Mars won’t be paid an appearance fee for his efforts, a league spokesperson confirms. The NFL will cover the usual setup, travel and lodging costs for the singer and his team—not a trifling sum.

Mars’ payment will come in the form of exposure. He’ll be playing what amounts to a 12-minute commercial for himself, which should boost sales for concert tickets, albums and merchandise (for context, a 30-second ad costs about $4 million this year).

His selection surprised some observers, given that the last two years’ performers—Madonna and Beyoncé—had both been international superstars for many years before playing the Super Bowl. Why didn’t the league pick another name like that?

“One of the answers is there aren’t that many acts like that,” says Marc Ganis, president of the consultancy Sportscorp, Ltd. “And the NFL has been going through most of them. You don’t want to recycle. If you’re going to look outside that limited sphere, Bruno Mars is a pretty good selection.”

Indeed, in just four years’ time, Mars has rocketed from being a struggling songwriter to cementing his status as one of the top acts in pop music today. On top of releasing a pair of platinum-selling albums, he’s been nominated for 18 Grammy awards and won two, including Best Pop Vocal Album for Unorthodox Jukebox at last week’s ceremony.

Ganis also points out that Mars’ performance at the 2011 NBA All-Star Game pre-show earned him a reputation in the sports world as a reliable entertainer, something that’s crucial to the NFL after halftime mishaps like Janet Jackson’s infamous “Nipplegate” incident at Super Bowl XXXVIII.

The “Locked Out of Heaven” singer recently announced that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be joining him onstage as a special guest at this year’s halftime show, a move that led some to believe he was getting “the jitters.” He insists he’s not nervous–and it’s worth noting that the California rockers are one of Mars’ major influences (he included their song “Salute to Kareem” in the playlist he compiled for the aforementioned 30 Under 30 issue).

That said, Mars has done plenty of thinking about the group he’s about to join.

“[My band and I] were all watching Beyoncé perform last year,” he says. “We were just blown away. We said, ‘Wow, what if one day we got the call to play that show?’”

The big game seems to have avoided the blizzard-ridden doomsday predictions that dominated headlines up until about a week ago. The forecast now calls for temperatures in the high 30s or low 40s at kickoff, dipping toward freezing by halftime.

Those are adverse singing conditions for anyone, let alone a Hawaii native. But Mars seems as confident as Peyton Manning at a pre-game press conference.

“Everyone’s saying it’s going to be cold, and this and that,” says Mars. “I’m like, ‘I’m gonna go for it.’ … You gotta be fearless, man.”

Want to learn more about the business of music? Follow me on Twitter and pre-order my book Michael Jackson, Inc.–a business-focused biography of another Super Bowl halftime legend–right here.

 

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

 

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