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Proposing a new release on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is widely known and loved for the catalog it has built up, expanded, and maintained over 70 years under its mission of keeping the history of music and sound from the United States and beyond available in perpetuity for music lovers, scholars, and communities. The label also continues in this mission by adding new releases to its holdings every year.

We aim to publish a small number of high-quality unsolicited releases that can meaningfully add to our catalog. We receive around 50–60 proposals of this nature every year, many of them featuring quality music and important musicians. In the challenging climate of the current music industry, very few of these proposals are accepted for production. Folkways believes that musical and cultural diversity contribute to the vitality and quality of life throughout the world. We aim to represent this mission in the projects we accept for production.

In order to create an equitable and transparent process, we invite proposals to be submitted in the format outlined in this document so our curatorial team can assess them, seek external expertise where needed, make informed decisions, and respond as quickly as possible. We will not review proposals that do not follow the instructions below.

To minimize great effort on proposals that do not meet our criteria, we advise you to send a brief email to FolkwaysProposals@si.edu that answers just questions No. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9 (acknowledgement of timeline, proposed title, two-paragraph summary, permissions status, and sound samples) for initial feedback before submitting a full proposal. We meet on a quarterly basis, at the beginning of March, June, September, and December. Please submit your initial proposal by the last day of the preceding month (Feb, May, Aug, Nov). please allow 3 to 4 months (after all materials have been received) for full proposal reviews.

Thank you for your interest in submitting a proposal to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and for making the world a better place through promoting music of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Proposals are accepted on a quarterly basis. Please note that our current production schedule has new projects released 2–3 years after contract signed.

Download the New Project/Recording Proposal form Word | PDF