We Strictly gave up after asking to be paid, musicians say | TV and radio

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A group of professional musicians have said they were abandoned by Strictly Come Dancing after asking to be paid to perform on the show’s spinoff.
Amaraterra, a band that perform traditional music from southern Italy, said they were excited when approached by producers who were excited for them to appear on BBC’s companion program It Takes Two.

However, when they asked for a fee to compensate them for a day’s work, BBC producers told them, in emails viewed by the Guardian: “We just don’t have money in the budget for pay contributors. Instead, they were offered a free lunch and it was suggested that they would receive “a decent amount of screen time, as well as a mention of your group’s name,” which would help increase the sequel. of the group on Instagram and Facebook.

“I hope when things get back to normal and the arts are final[ly] restored, participating in this [recording] because such a great show will benefit you, ”they were told by the producer of the show, who wanted them to perform with professional dancers Nadiya Bychkova and Graziano Di Prima.

Group member Cassandre Balosso-Bardin said the group responded by asking the BBC to honor the relatively low rates agreed with the musicians’ union for session work, in addition to the required practice hours. They then did not receive a response for several days, only to be told that the show had abandoned them.

The performer told the Guardian that she was tired of the musicians working for free. She said, “The days of ‘it will give you visibility’ (something all musicians know all too well) are over. What exhibition? Why? We won’t get any shows these days and we won’t sell any albums because we don’t have any to sell, can’t afford its production… They want us and our expertise, but they won’t pay for it.

Balosso-Bardin said the inability to perform live during the pandemic had left some of his band struggling to survive: “Like all other musicians, our concerts have been canceled since March. We didn’t raise the funds to be able to produce our last album. We made a few YouTube videos, but we didn’t monetize any of our work because it seems unfair to our subscribers, most of whom are as tough as we are.

“We don’t know when our next gig will be, and many of the band are either on leave or on universal credit. And the current Covid allowance for freelancers (20% of your income), when 56% of musicians earn less than £ 20,000 a year, is a pittance. ”

She pointed to the difference between the high salaries paid to Strictly’s hosts, judges and dancers and the attitude towards musical guests.

She said, “On the outside, people can think, wow, you did, you have a storefront on Strictly! Doesn’t doing it get paid for your expertise, for your specialized work? Does it ensure that all your culture is trampled on, used for entertainment without financial compensation? To do it is to find the voice to fight for your art, even if you have to turn down the bling.

A BBC spokesperson said the decision to remove the group from the program was made for editorial reasons, rather than because they were asking for a fee. They said, “Like we do with a lot of artists, we discussed a performance proposal with Amaraterra for It Takes Two which ultimately didn’t come up for editorial reasons.

Although the producers repeatedly told the group that there was no budget available, the BBC spokesman insisted they could have been paid. They said, “If they had played, of course they would have been paid for their appearance. ”

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