Does Performing at the Super Bowl Actually Boost Album Sales?

Robert Villalta at Pexels

Maroon 5 took the stage during the halftime performance at Super Bowl LIII. So, they have followed in the footsteps of some of the most popular artists of their generation. But unfortunately, they got mixed reviews. The risks of putting on a bad performance are poor reviews and mocking memes that populate search results and flood social media.

However, the rewards of succeeding are not quite clear. Does a great Super Bowl performance substantially benefit the artists? Since those perform during Super Bowl halftime are already household names, the sales chart is the sole indicator of halftime performance success. So, how have the past six years of headliners fared on the Billboard 200 following their Super Bowl performances?

2013: Beyoncé

Performance date: February 3, 2013. Beyoncé wouldn’t release her surprise album Beyoncé until 10 months later, so the latest album the audience could purchase was 2011’s 4. The February 16th, 2013 edition of the Billboard 200 saw 4 re-enter the chart at 100. The next week, it climbed to 79 as 2008’s I Am… Sasha Fierce re-entered the chart at 116. And 4 would fluctuate on the chart until dropping off again the week of April 13, nearly two months later.

2014: Bruno Mars

Performance date: February 2, 2014. The February 15, 2014 Billboard 200 bumped Bruno Mars’s 2012 album Unorthodox Jukebox from 18 to 7, while 2010’s Doo-Wops & Hooligans made a massive jump from 82 to 19. The following week saw both albums rise again, Jukebox to 3 and Holligans to 11. Afterward, both albums began to descend the chart, indicating that Mars’s Super Bowl bump was over.

2015: Katy Perry

Performance date: February 1, 2015. The February 14, 2015 chart featured three Katy Perry albums: 2013’s Prism, 2010’s Teenage Dream and 2008’s One of the Boys. Prism rose from 57 to 28, Dream went from 152 to 33 and Boys re-entered the chart at 113. All three would continue to rise until the February 28th chart, which saw Prism drop from 17 from 36, Dream from 22 to 67 and Boys bumped off the chart altogether.

2016: Coldplay

Performance date: February 7, 2016. The February 20, 2016 Billboard 200 saw Coldplay’s 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams rise from 37 to 16. The next week, it would leap to 4, while every other Coldplay album re-entered the chart. 2014’s Ghost Stories at 65, 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head at 73, 2008’s Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends at 75, 2011’s Mylo Xyloto at 76, 2005’s X&Y at 100 and 2000’s Parachutes at 113. A downturn started the following week, with A Head Full of Dreams dropping to 14 and all the other albums dropping off the chart, except for Ghost Stories, which sat at 197.

2017: Lady Gaga

Performance date: February 5, 2017. The February 18, 2017 chart saw Lady Gaga‘s 2016 album Joanne drop from 59 to 66. But the week after that was when the Super Bowl bump began. Joanne jumped from 66 to 2, while 2008’s The Fame re-entered at 6, 2011’s Born This Way re-entered at 25 and 2013’s Artpop re-entered at 174. The next week, the bump was wearing off. Joanne dropped to 8, The Fame dropped to 37 and Born This Way dropped to 112, while Artpop dropped off the chart completely.

2018: Justin Timberlake

Performance date: February 4, 2018. Justin Timberlake‘s album release for Man of the Woods couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. It debuted on the February 17, 2018 chart at the top position, while his three other solo albums re-entered the charts. 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds at 56, 2013’s The 20/20 Experience at 106 and 2002’s Justified at 120. The next week, Woods and LoveSounds were the only ones left on the chart, Woods dropping to 2 and LoveSounds to 142. As time went on, Woods would become the only Timberlake album on the chart and steadily dropped in the ranks.

The results indicate that performing in the Super Bowl halftime show does boost album sales, but only for a short period. Those that appear to benefit the most are acts with the broadest appeal and biggest discography. One example is Coldplay’s seven albums charting at once. Also, those with a recent album got a major, if brief, resurgence, like Lady Gaga’s Joanne. And finally, those artists with Super Bowl-timed releases such as Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods’s debuted at number one on the chart.

Maroon 5 most certainly falls under the first category, boasting a broad radio presence and six-album discography. But did they match Coldplay’s performance, or are memes the most valuable product of Super Bowl LIII’s halftime show?