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Become a Friend of Folkways

Friends of Folkways

Friends of Folkways is an opportunity for the public to support our nonprofit mission.

Smithsonian Folkways is more than just a record label. We are driven by our mission of preserving cultural heritage and amplifying the voices of all people, which means working with communities and artists that are often overlooked. From the sounds of the office to the sounds of freedom fighters, from Pete Seeger to Woody Guthrie to Lucinda Williams and beyond: the Folkways catalog sounds like no other. It encompasses all sounds of our lives, both monumental and minute.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you share our passion for these sounds and ideals, as well as a desire to ensure that mission continues well into the future. We’re asking you to become a Friend of Folkways to help us sustain this important work. Friends of Folkways are key stakeholders in the organization and allow us to continue to advocate for underrepresented cultures, artists, and traditions.

While other record labels are motivated by profit and the bottom line, Smithsonian Folkways is one of the few non-profit labels in operation today. We do not receive operational support from the US federal government and are primarily supported by record sales to fans. When we use the phrase “Music of the people, by the people, for the people,” we really mean it. If we are to remain a label of the people, we need the people’s support. We need you to raise your voice with ours and become a Friend of Folkways.

All you need to do to become a Friend of Folkways is to give a continuing monthly donation to the label, a portion of which will be paid out directly to artists as royalties. The minimum contribution is $5 per month, but you can choose to give more (for example, $5, $20, $50, $100, or any other amount you prefer). As a thank you, subscribers will be given unlimited access to stream all of the available titles in the Smithsonian Folkways catalog straight from our website (with the US only at this time), including all its subsidiary labels such as Arhoolie, Folk-Legacy, Paredon, and more. The ability to discover not only a new favorite song, but entire worlds of music and sound that you may have never encountered before, is right at your fingertips. From bluegrass to gamelan to jigs to poetry, the catalog offers countless avenues of exploration. The full amount of your contribution is tax-deductible. Read our Terms and Conditions to learn more.

Smithsonian Folkways is committed to supporting new artists, as well as highlighting historical works that illuminate the past and help us understand the complicated present. We offer the liner notes for every album as a free resource to the public, along with lesson plans and other tools for educators. As the music industry further consolidates under the control of large technology conglomerates and venture capital firms, we need you to help us maintain the independence you value, the independence that affords Smithsonian Folkways its unique position as a mission driven record label, and which has been key to the Folkways ethos since Moses Asch founded the label in 1948. Most of all, we need your help to support artists to ensure they make a decent living and can continue their own important work.

Become a Friend of Folkways today and open your ears to the world of sound contained in our storied catalog, knowing that you’re supporting our work, and our artists, for years to come.

Please note: Friends of Folkways streaming benefit is limited at this time to use inside the United States

Choose a monthly donation amount

Interested in a one-time donation instead? Click here.
Did you know? Smithsonian Folkways receives no operational support from Federal funding. We support our work primarily through the sales of sound recordings and with contributions from our members and donors.
TAX DEDUCTIBLE All Friends of Folkways donations are 100% tax deductible.
Friends of Folkways FAQ
  • Why should I become a member?
  • How does streaming work?
  • How do I cancel?
Terms and Conditions

By enrolling in Friends of Folkways, you acknowledge and agree that these terms and conditions are a binding agreement between you and Smithsonian Folkways. Accordingly, please review this agreement carefully.