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Friends of Folkways FAQ

Why should I become a Friend of Folkways?

Smithsonian Folkways is one of the few non-profit labels in operation today. To maintain our curatorial independence and retain our ability to continue to release non-commercial music, we depend on extra support from those who know and love us best. We do not receive operational support from the US federal government and are primarily funded by record sales to fans. If we are to remain a label of the people, we need you to become a Friend of Folkways.

Is my contribution to be a Friend of Folkways tax-deductible?

The full amount of your contribution is tax deductible! We will send you a gift acknowledgement letter by email each January that summarizes your total giving from the previous year. Under U.S. tax regulations, the value of streaming access to the Smithsonian Folkways collection is considered insubstantial, therefore the fair market value of streaming access will not be included in your gift acknowledgement letter. Friends of Folkways participants should consult their professional tax advisors for further information.

Why can’t I pay using PayPal?

Unfortunately, at this time, our system does not allow us this option.

Can I purchase the membership as a gift?

Unfortunately, at this time, our system does not allow us this option.

How do I access the available collection via streaming?

A desktop computer or mobile phone with an Internet connection and web browser capabilities are required. The latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, DuckDuckGo, or Opera are highly recommended. JavaScript must be enabled to access streaming. Some browser plugins or extensions may conflict with the streaming feature and affect functionality. If you experience behavior that does not allow you to access our available collection via streaming, please ensure you have disabled any extensions or plugins that interact directly with your web browser.

To access the streaming features:

  1. Log into your Smithsonian Folkways account.
  2. Navigate to you the release page of the album you wish to listen to. There are a number of ways to navigate. Suggested methods including using the search bar at the top of our page, or using the “browse” bar with the dropdown menus for Genre, Geography, Artist, and Label. Click on the album that you want to listen to to load the selection’s release page.
  3. On the top right of every available release will be a "Play Album" button. Clicking on this will start the player. Alternatively you can scroll down to the “Track Listing” section of the release page and click on the triangle-shaped "play" buttons to the left of each track.
  4. A player will appear at the bottom of your screen. You may move forward, backward, or pause the recording by using the button and slider.

Why can’t I stream certain tracks or albums?

While the majority of our catalog is available to stream, there are a number of tracks or albums that are not available due to rights issues. If you are not able to stream and need to listen to a recording, it’s possible that the recording is available for purchase in a CD format.

When will my card be charged?

Your account will be charged monthly on the date of your order, and on your anniversary date of your original date your first contribution was made.

How do I update my account information?

To update your account information, including contact and payment details, sign in to your My Account page.

Can I increase my monthly contribution?

Yes, and we encourage you to do so! Remember that your contribution as a Friend of Folkways is tax deductible. To increase your contribution, please visit the My Subscriptions page of your account.

How do I cancel my participation in Friends of Folkways?

If at any time you wish to discontinue your monthly contributions, you may log in to your account and navigate to the My Subscriptions page. You may also contact the Smithsonian Folkways customer service department at or (202) 633-6450. You do not need to notify your bank or credit card company. If you cancel your contribution before your next monthly payment is charged, you will retain streaming access until the date of your sign-up anniversary in the following month.