Lil Wayne, Big Boi, More Score Lucrative Sponsored Gigs Around Super Bowl

As thousands of football fans flock to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, dozens of musical acts will also head to the Big Easy to collect hefty paychecks for performing at brand-sponsored events and other private parties during the weekend.
 
Between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, Anheuser-Busch will host concerts at its Bud Light-branded hotel in downtown New Orleans with Stevie Wonder, Lil Wayne, Big Boi, Pitbull, Flo Rida, Eli Young Band and Lee Brice. Elsewhere around the city, GQ’s invite-only party will feature Lil Wayne; ESPN is bringing in Cee-Lo; Jay-Z will host a party at Republic New Orleans; Hennessy is planning an event with Nas; and Playboy’s annual party will boast a performance by B.o.B. Additionally, DIRECTV has tapped Justin Timberlake and Roots drummer Questlove to perform at its weekend party (a benefit for the Shriners Hospitals for Children), while Audi parties will feature Santigold, Diplo and Solange Knowles. And Pepsi has tapped Hunter Hayes, Trombone Shorty and the Roots for its invite-only event. 
 
“Those gigs are the best ones to get,” says the Collective’s Marcus Grant, whose client Big Boi will perform alongside Lil Wayne at an EA Sports-sponsored event at the Bud Light Hotel on Jan. 31. “They have built-in budgets and you don’t have to deal with any backend deals or hard ticket sales. You just make an offer, they accept and it’s a clean check.”
 
Artists generally charge a premium rate for performing at private events -- and Super Bowl weekend is no exception. Industry sources estimate that some brands will pay artists between $10,000 and $250,000 (and sometimes higher) to perform at their individual Super Bowl events this year. In addition to a flat guarantee and paid expenses, to sweeten the deal, some acts may also receive VIP tickets to the big game.
 
“Artists command a premium specifically around these events. The parties are competitive because the talent really pulls the whole thing together and creates the overall experience,” says Kyle Schrader, an agent in APA’s entertainment marketing and brand integration department.

Schrader is currently helping secure talent for director/producer Michael Bay's Super Bowl party, which APA client Lamborghini will participate in.

In some cases, performing at Super Bowl events is part of a pre-existing arrangement between the brand and artist. Anheuser-Busch VP of U.S. marketing Paul Chibe says the acts appearing at Bud Light Hotel have previously worked with the beer company on some level, ranging from branding deals to music licensing for television ads. He notes, however, that artists performing at the Bud Light concerts are still being paid to appear. The shows are being held across the street from Bud Light Hotel (the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel has been rebranded by the beer company for Super Bowl weekend) inside a tent that cost Anheuser-Busch $575,000 to construct.
 
Performance fees aside, being aligned with a highly recognizable name like Bud Light, the official beer sponsor of the National Football League, during the Super Bowl has other advantages as well. Triple 8 Management’s George Couri, whose client Eli Young Band will play a Bud Light tailgate party on Feb. 3, hopes the group (nominated for two Grammys this year) will receive a boost in press surrounding the concert.
 
“Apart from people who are going to be at the event, Budweiser is going to put out their media machine, letting people know that Eli Young is doing this event with them at the Super Bowl,” Couri says. “Bud Light is obviously one of the biggest advertisers in the Super Bowl and their publicity machine is going to get the word out. That doesn’t hurt.”
 
Similarly, GQ VP and publisher Chris Mitchell says that Lil Wayne’s performance at the magazine’s exclusive party, to be held Feb. 2 at the historic Elm’s Mansion, is less about money and more about helping raise the rapper’s corporate profile and forming a partnership with the GQ brand.
 
“I think [Lil Wayne] and his managers see this as a great opportunity to raise the luxury part of his brand,” Mitchell says, noting that Lacoste and Mercedes-Benz are sponsors of the GQ event. “Given the caliber of his talent, the fee arrangement reflects much more that this is a partnership and that he wants it much more of a partnership, as opposed to being a hired gun.”

This year’s Super Bowl has also impacted concert bookings in the markets surrounding New Orleans.

The approximately 2,000-capacity concert venue at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., which sits about 70 miles from New Orleans, will feature Super Bowl weekend performances by Justin Moore (Feb. 1) and Aaron Lewis (Feb. 2). Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi senior VP of marketing Vince Lentini says the Super Bowl played a role in which types of artists the venue booked for the weekend.

“When we do Super Bowl, we typically try to book two acts that are going to appeal to potentially a slightly younger demographic,” Lentini says, noting that Super Bowl weekend is particularly strong for the casino industry and that the Hard Rock expects a bump in visitors over the weekend.