But now the NFL is turning the Superbowl halftime show into the ultimate pay-to-play gig. Instead of the league paying a top-shelf act like U2 or Bruce Springsteen to play the show, it's now asking the acts to pay in order to get in front of 100+ million viewers that will be watching.
The price the NFL is asking hasn't been revealed, but the first three "candidates" that were chosen for the 2015 Superbowl to be held in Pheonix, Coldplay, Rihanna and Katy Perry, have been decidedly cool on the idea.
That said, an appearance at the world's largest gig can lead to years of prosperity afterwards, as evidenced by the 2007 appearance by Prince, who's sold-out venues ever since. His career had been lagging before the appearance.
To be fair, the NFL has never actually paid performers to appear at the Superbowl, but has supplied what's amounted to millions of dollars in expenses, which can be extensive for most acts appearing.