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Replaced By Recordings: ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Fires Their Orchestra After 17 Seasons…

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Because a live orchestra was obviously the one thing keeping Dancing With The Stars from a young demographic…

At least that’s what ABC/Disney seems to think.

Dancing With The Stars‘ live backing band has been fired ahead of the upcoming spring season. The 28 members of the Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers have been with the show for 17 seasons.

According to the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the move was made in order to “attract a younger demographic,” even though Dancing With The Stars continues to be one of the most-viewed television programs.  The orchestra will be replaced by recordings and a “small electric band”. 

As Liz Lemon once said: “So your job is you take things that are already working, and you fix them. That’s a great job.

Ray Hair, President of the American Federation of Musicians International, says:

“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… Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won’t boost ratings. It will kill the show.”

If the network really wants to attract a younger demographic, why don’t they hire more celebrities that are actually relevant?

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Comments (26)
  1. Dean

    They should replace them all with two french robots who operate mixing equipment, fake turntables and sound samplers. The solution is already Grammy approved.


    Reply
  2. rikki

    Maybe its not what it seems. Professional dancers especially Ballroom ones, have bands that play strict tempo because they count the steps.

    It is possible the band has been getting sloppy in their old age, and had too many complaints from the pros.

    1 misstep could mean the difference from winning or moving to the next round or being bounced.

    Yes those dancers take it that seriously. as a dj i know… so cd’s can be pitch locked…. end of complaints.


    Reply
    1. Aggie80

      While I lament the loss of the band, thanks for that insight, Rikki!


      Reply
    2. Jason

      That is one totally screwed up reply. First of all
      Harold Wheeler is a first class arranger and band leader
      With a way solid reputation. I’m sure being in LA
      He uses all the first call players. There is no way they were messing anything up.Replacing them
      With a “small electric band and electronics” there
      Is the reason plain and simple. It’s about the
      Money and how much they will save firing the
      Orchestra. I am no fan of the show but the
      Orchestra gives the music character. That is now gone
      Cheesy move


      Reply
      1. Joe

        Exqctly


        Reply
      2. rikki

        Jason:

        Not arguing if he’s first class but pro dancers are usually prima donnas…and if its not perfect boy will they let you know.

        It would be really stupid if this is ONLY over money.


        Reply
        1. JD

          Any dancer worth his/her s#*t will tell you that dancing to a live band is ALWAYS better than dancing to a prerecorded track. All due respect rikki, but this reasoning makes no sense.


          Reply
    3. Frightwing

      Pro Dancers?? No!!! They are celebrities dancing with pros and dancing TO pros!!!! If anything will through off the pro it will be the celebrity novice dancer!!!
      They want a band that looks like the late night talk show bands and yes it is about money!!
      So now they will have a small electric band with recordings!! HAAAA There will be NO live music playing on that show. Here we go again, downsizing and dumbing down to appeal to a dumber demographic!!
      That said, I want to audition for the gig!!!! I push play like no one has ever seen!!!!


      Reply
    4. Pepito

      MY dear friend, By the way you write, it seems that you have little knowledge of what you are talking about.
      First at all, “so cd’s can be pitch locked” is the wrong term: Pith is the key and/ or tonality of the song. NOT THE TEMPO. Dancers might want to be strict to the tempo they want. NOT THE PITCH.
      Also, most Dancers prefer to dance to a live band, the energy from a good live performance can’t be never compared or replace by a recording..
      You, as a Dj, “you might know” a little bit……

      Me , as a professional musician, producer, band leader and musical director with more than 20 years of professional experience and having worked with professional dancers for the las 15 years, I KNOW.

      Anyway,
      Have a nice day.


      Reply
  3. Musicservices4less

    Let’s look at this financially as well. The cost of the orchestra per show vs licensing master recordings. Keep in mind the show was already paying the musical composition owner so that will be a wash. Assuming they use original master recordings as opposed to a cover version, the cost per master for a full buyout will be anywhere from about $500 to $7,500 at the top end. Compare this to the flat cost of an orchestra per show and I think there is a big financial incentive to do away with the orchestra and only use a four piece studio musicians. Even more of a financial incentive is if they only or the majority of songs, use cover recordings performed in the studio by the four piece band, I think that will open the eyes of any bean counter! I’m just sayn’.


    Reply
    1. Jason

      In the end it is always about the money


      Reply
  4. Michael A. Flack

    It all comes down to one person in decision making. Who is it? Apparently even the decision making person is getting tired of this show. It will not be long for the shred file. Same thing happened with 2 and 1/2 Men. Watch the ratings fall. Save a penny, loose a pound! Remember how idiotic this decision was and watch the profits blow away. Has anyone ever heard: Don’t fix what ain’t broken.


    Reply
  5. Michael A. Flack

    So you were all sitting around a table. And then some fool said, “How are we gonna stop this spiral down? What can we do?” and then a bigger buffoon stood up or raised their arm and said, ” I know, let’s get rid of the band.” And all the rest of the brown noses got out their calculator and agreed together. Of course, they would say anything to save their puny little jobs while sending the musicians to the streets to fend for themselves and sacrifice several family members of those most talented members of this show! Karaoke really is not that entertaining. But, then again, if you have never tried to move people to applause through music . . . . real music, then you wouldn’t have any idea. My buddy once said: “You can applaud all you want to that canned music, but it will not inspire it to get better. But you can set this place on fire with just a little applause and combine it with live musicians!” THERE is the difference.


    Reply
  6. jerome taylor

    My question is what happens if the electronic suddenly fails during the dance routine? Things like this has been known to happen! Besides, if you’ve had a first rate band that has been performing on one of the most watched programs in America for 17 years or so, don’t you think you might lose a good portion of your fan base?! Trust me, you don’t want to fix that which isn’t broken, especially for the sake of bring more young people in.


    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Completely disgusting!! They should be ashamed of themselves!


    Reply
  8. Lyle Alzado

    If they get rid of the band, I will stop watching, and I will roll over in my grave too!


    Reply
  9. Craig Byrd

    The dancing is all phoney, baloney, the music might as well be as well.


    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    From a 16 season watcher, DWTS will have to do without me this year without HW and his team.


    Reply
  11. KT

    Better get those youngers. Are you kidding me? Firing the band won’t do that. You have to text them. They don’t want to have anything to do with real live communication. It’s because the producer probably needed another cleaning lady or a bigger raise. Jason, you NAILED it! Absolutely about the money. Too bad. This show has been going down hill – now let’s see what happens to the ratings. Zombie children won’t watch.


    Reply
  12. MB

    Well, as a professional musician who has played many shows and with singers and dancers, it has nothing to do with the professional musicians not playing on tempo or being able to play in perfect beat. That would be something a DJ would say, because they don’t really know anything about music. When you start to talk music to a DJ their eyes glaze over and they get a very confused look. Trust me, I’ve seen it. While it’s a nice neat argument for someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about it is truly about the money. We all saw this happen in Vegas almost 30 years ago, and it’s about progress. No one needs music anymore, they just need some guy standing up there playing repetitive strings of beats. That’s makes the simple minds of the current generation happy, and while that’s sad, you just have to learn to deal with it.


    Reply
  13. Greg

    Let’s face it. They don’t want to pay that many musicians. Pit Bands for musicals have been pared down to a bare minimum for years and now this. It’s all about the bottom line. PROFIT!


    Reply
  14. Dan Stevens

    Jay Leno (or his bosses) did the same thing when he took over and they canned the Doc Severinsen Big Band.

    It is always about the money. I have been a professional reading musician for 45 years and I have seen this over and over and over again.


    Reply
  15. Jenny

    It’s an awful idea and they will pay for it. The great orchestra has been part of the draw of this show. ABC always ruins all their top shows eventually. I wondered when they’d screw this one up.


    Reply
  16. Jo Ann

    The music for 2014 is less than desirable. Bring back the orchestra – this stuff is cheesy.


    Reply
  17. jen

    Erin Andrews is not good at all on the show.

    I’m in the coveted 18-49, and I’m mad because Cody is off. He was awesome! DWTS watchers are obviously still baby boomers who are so old school. If the bulk of people watching were 18-49 Cody would have won, or at least went head to head with Amy in the finale.


    Reply
  18. jen

    Recordings stink. Further reason to turn to the other shows.

    Need a format change that works- don’t get rid of orchestra- that is dumb.

    do 2 dances and no “what happened this week” unless it is less than 30 seconds. GO BACK TO 2 DANCES- AND ONLY 1 SHOW- AND QUIT QUIT QUIT WITH THE LONG LONG LONG ELIMINATIONS.

    PEOPLE SHUT THE T.V. OFF BECAUSE OF THE CRAPPY ELIMINATION PROCESS- WHO WANTS TO SIT AROUND AND WATCH NOTHING. GET MORE DANCING AND DANCES- 2 AT LEAST FROM EACH- AND DON’T TEASE AND CRAP- JUST DANCE DANCE DANCE AND NOT INTERVIEW- BUT BE QUICK ABOUT IT. MORE SUBSTANCE- LESS CRAP. NOBODY LIKES THE PAUSES AND THE LONG ELIMINATION JEOPARDY CRAP.

    JUST ELIMINATE- DON’T MAKE US WATCH AS YOU TEAR THE BANDAID OFF FOR ABOUT 2 HOURS. JUST ELIMINATE IN THE END- NO DRAMA- YOUR VIEWERSHIP WILL GO UP IF YOU HAVE MORE DANCING COMPETITIVELY- (NOT FILLERS OR FILL-INS) AND LESS DRAMA.

    STILL NEED A GOOD HOST LADY- ERIN NOT CUTTING IT UNLESS YOU LIKE A PERSON WITHOUT POLISH. SHE SAYS THE STUPIDEST THINGS- AT LEAST SHE IS NICE TO THE CONTESTANTS BUT REALLY SHE ISN’T POLISHED.

    DO A DIFFERENT JUDGING THING- HAVE THE AUDIENCE ACCOUNT FOR 3/4 INSTEAD OF 1/2.


    Reply

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