The NFL doesn't pay musical acts to perform on the Super Bowl halftime show . . . and now, they're reportedly trying to get musicians to pay THEM for the PRIVILEGE of taking the stage.

The "Wall Street Journal" says the league has narrowed their wish list for this year's game down to three acts: RIHANNA, KATY PERRY, and COLDPLAY.

According to sources, league reps have been checking around to see if anyone would PAY to play . . . and naturally, the people they've talked to have NOT been super receptive to that.

The NFL hasn't commented directly. A spokeswoman merely said their contracts with performers were confidential, and that their only goal was to, quote, "put on the best possible show."

The Super Bowl halftime show has become a prestige gig, but it's hard to believe anyone would pay the NFL to do it.

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