How Jay-Z Changed the Way Super Bowl Artists Are Chosen

  • Rihanna, one of Roc Nation’s biggest artists, performed at Super Bowl LVII on Sunday.
  • Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s label, partnered with the NFL in 2019 as music entertainment strategists.
  • Jay-Z previously said he disagreed with how the NFL picked its halftime players.

The NFL’s 57th Super Bowl halftime performance with Rihanna was the fourth show headlined by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation since the entertainment agency entered into a long-term partnership with the league in 2019.

Since then, the popular NFL live music show has brought stars like Jennifer Lopez, The Weeknd and, in 2022, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, among other artists.

Roc Nation’s association with Rihanna may have been instrumental in changing the pop star’s song about performing at the halftime show – an offer she rejected in 2018, a year before the NFL-Roc Nation partnership came to fruition – but there are others. Jay Ways -Z’s Entertainment Company helped shape one of the most watched live music acts in the world.

At a 2019 conference led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the music mogul, Jay-Z spoke about his vision for the Super Bowl’s music entertainment option and how he originally disagreed with the league’s artist selection process.

The changes were first noticed by Dan Runcie, founder of Trapital, in a Sunday Twitter Thread.

“The selection process was piecemeal,” he said, after being asked why he personally chose not to play in the halftime show.

“You take four artists and everyone thinks they’re playing in the Super Bowl. It’s almost like an interview process,” he said. When an artist is finally chosen, there are now three “bothered” artists, he added.

“That’s not even good math. After three years, nine people are upset and three play,” he said. “There aren’t many superstars in the world. You’re going to run out of people who want to play. I just think the process could have been more defined.”

Instead, Jay-Z suggested that the NFL approach artists one by one.

The “Empire State of Mind” rapper also said the partnership with the NFL was a way to make big platforms like hip-hop’s most inclusive halftime show.

“I think for a long time, and not just the NFL, but America in general, saw rap as a fad,” he said. “It’s the number one genre in the world and it’s been that way… So I would love for those platforms to be more inclusive of our music.”

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