Become a Smithsonian Folkways Member
Smithsonian Folkways is driven by our mission of preserving cultural heritage and amplifying the voices of all people. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you share our passion for these ideals and desire that our mission continues well into the future. In order to sustain this important work, we need your support by joining our membership program. Our members are key stakeholders in the organization and allow us to continue to advocate for underrepresented cultures and traditions, and contemporary independent artists. We need you to raise your voice with ours and become a part of Smithsonian Folkways as a member.
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, and is designated as a charitable organization. Despite popular misconception, the label does not receive operational support from the US government and is primarily supported by record sales from fans. So, 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.
Smithsonian Folkways members help to sustain everything we do. Over the past year we’ve released culturally significant recordings including Songs of Our Native Daughters, which powerfully voiced the experiences of black women in American society and history in the face of centuries of racism and misogyny. We celebrated Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday with Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection. We brought to light important unheard recordings of Bulgarian folk music in Sound Portraits from Bulgaria, and explored the rich history of New Orleans music on Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Lula Wiles helped us show that the definition of folk music is ever-evolving in exciting ways. And as of last week, we've earned four GRAMMY nominations for recent Smithsonian Folkways records.We couldn’t have done this without the support of our members.
Because we are dependent on album sales for our survival, we are especially vulnerable to the precarious nature of the record industry. As Billboard, BBC, and Rolling Stone have all reported in the past several months, CD sales are declining rapidly, and enormous tech conglomerates set the rates at which we’re paid for the music we release as streaming gains prominence. In this new media environment, we need you to help us maintain the independence that affords Smithsonian Folkways its unique position as a megaphone for people and cultures from around the world. Your membership support ensures Folkways can continue to bring you the amazing music and stories you have come to expect for years to come. Please consider becoming a member today.
Joining our membership program provides listeners with intimate access to the Smithsonian Folkways catalog, with over $1000 worth of free downloads per year, 20-30% off all goods in our webstore, rad music swag, and more. With three tiers of membership, you can join at a price point that is most comfortable for you, and the ability to choose between a monthly or annual billing cycle. All new members will receive a brand new members-only t-shirt (pictured above), as well as a special gift -- this year, the special member gift is portable Bluetooth speaker with which you can listen to your favorite Folkways tunes, straight from your phone or computer!