Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.

As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.

The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.

Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.

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Home » Recent News » AFM President Blasts ABC for firing ‘Dancing with the Stars Orchestra’


AFM President Blasts ABC for firing ‘Dancing with the Stars Orchestra’

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After 17 hit seasons performing on one of the world’s most popular TV programs, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), the 28 men and women of the show’s live backing band—the Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers—have been fired.  Producers of the show say the group will be replaced with pre-existing sound recordings and a “small electric band” to “attract a younger demographic.”

AFM International President Ray Hair blasted ABC-TV for its decision, asking supporters to e-mail Candice.a.ashton@abc.com to demand the orchestra’s return or risk viewer retaliation. “People who love Dancing with the Stars also love the superb performances of the orchestra because it is such an integral part of the show,” says Hair. “The tight, elaborate musical productions that catapulted the show into the top 10 in 17 countries can’t be duplicated by recordings and a small combo. Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud.”

Network sources say that a recent shift in ABC/Disney’s executive staff in charge of primetime reality series programming led to pressure on DWTS producer BBC Worldwide Productions to cut corners and pander to a younger viewing audience.  “It’s not like ABC and Disney don’t have any money and can’t afford an orchestra. It’s about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it,” says Hair. “Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won’t boost ratings. It will kill the show.”







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