Smithsonian Folkways seeks a highly motivated Sales & Customer Service Specialist

Smithsonian Folkways, the iconic non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, is seeking an experienced, knowledgeable, and dynamic Sales & Customer Service Specialist. The label is going through a period of expansion and reinvigoration, and is looking for a candidate who has experience in physical and digital music sales to optimize the label’s presence in the ever-shifting marketplace. 

Over the past year Smithsonian Folkways has been met with widespread acclaim for new releases from Lula Wiles, Our Native Daughters, Sunny Jain and Laurie Anderson, won two GRAMMY Awards for Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection and Mariachi Los Camperos, and released numerous box sets celebrating the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, folk music of Bulgaria, and more.

The Sales & Customer Service Specialist will supervise a small team of Customer Service Representatives and reports to the Marketing and Sales Manager. Duties include overseeing relationships with distributors foreign and domestic; managing sales and delivery on digital platforms such as Apple, Spotify, and Bandcamp; and supervising relationships with direct customers through mail order and membership. They will work closely with the Inventory Coordinator to manage stock levels worldwide.  

The ideal candidate has experience in sales within niche markets as well as to general audiences, and understands how fans, educators, and industry professionals discover and consume music. The successful applicant will have exceptional oral and written communication skills, experience with managing physical product, and the ability to multi-task and work in a fast-paced environment. An ability to understand and be able to communicate about a wide variety of musical genres and styles is essential. 

The Smithsonian Folkways team is a group of passionate, dedicated music lovers that believe in the mission of music of the people, by the people, and for the people. If that’s you, we’d love to hear from you! 

Applications with a full CV and a letter addressing key criteria are due by email or regular mail at 5pm EST on April 15, 2020. Please ensure to note which position you are applying for. For submissions and further questions about this position, please contact our Executive Assistant Logan Clark at [email protected]


(Folkways Sales & Marketing Specialist 

#101834  IS 9)


This position is located in Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, a division of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The principal goal of this position is to work with the Folkways Director of Marketing and Sales as a sales person and a team leader for sales to increase revenue from catalogues, educational, non-traditional and international outlets generating revenues to help support the overall operation of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. This position also serves the mission of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the Smithsonian Institution by disseminating Smithsonian Folkways Recordings publications through international and non-traditional sales outlets, libraries and catalogues. The incumbent works under the general direction of the Director of Marketing and Sales, and the overall direction of the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Director.



General Incumbent works with the Director of Marketing and Sales in selling and promoting Smithsonian Folkways Recordings through all domestic and international sales outlets, including but not limited to libraries, museums, educational accounts, and various specialty and alternative retail outlets to achieve Folkways priorities.

Sales: Incumbent’s overall objective is to increase unit sales and profit margin by maximizing direct sales to accounts, servicing and maintaining existing mail order accounts, and soliciting and opening new mail order accounts by researching new distributors and accounts contacting them, and negotiating basic terms of agreement. Incumbent works to increase coverage in catalogues with placement, graphics, and copy for the label’s recordings, writing, editing and adapting text as necessary, instructing and coordinating with graphic designers to produce a fully professional result in keeping with Smithsonian standards and requirements. Incumbent develops or oversees development of specialty accounts in connection with special events identifying opportunities to create or attend events with a view to increasing sales, coordinating all travel, display materials, applications and personnel. Incumbent works to increase overall satisfaction of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings’ accounts, ensuring timely fulfillment and delivery of orders placed, reporting to Director of Marketing and Sales on execution of orders and customer satisfaction. Incumbent serves as Team Leader for other Sales Specialist (Grade 5) and other customer service reps (one Grade 6, and two Grade 5s). 

Marketing:  Incumbent recommends and implements methods of increasing sales to current constituents and potential accounts selecting target markets and media helping in the composition of text for promotional materials, PSAs and underwriting spots and managing, coordinating and keeping track of all uses of promotional materials in order to create more effective materials and to use such materials in the most cost effective way. Incumbent analyzes results of past marketing efforts to increase overall cost effectiveness of new marketing and promotion plans. Incumbent researches target markets, analyzes promotional options and prepares appropriate packages to achieve marketing and sales goals. 

Customer Service: Incumbent calls stores on a regular basis to develop new or maintain existing relationships between Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and retailers working with alternative and international distributors to maximize the label’s presence in foreign markets, checking store stock levels, requesting stock replenishment, providing collateral materials to retailers, ensuring items are racked in appropriate categories and displayed for greatest visibility. Incumbent coordinates the activities of the customer service team, ensuring that that sales are maximized and all approved financial, administrative and ethical procedures and practices are adhered to as required by Smithsonian Institution. 

Retail, library, museum or educational institutions: Incumbent oversees sales outreach by Grade 5/2 sales associate, ensuring that sales calls are placed to relevant organizations on a regular basis. Incumbent attends, and oversees associate’s attendance at, appropriate educational conferences to develop new relationships and strengthen existing ones between Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and libraries, museums and other educational institutions. Incumbent researches and suggests to Director of Marketing and Sales methods of improving sales utilizing audio and visual presentation at educational retail outlets. 

Concerts, Events, Exhibitions, Conferences: Incumbent helps represent Smithsonian Folkways Recordings by selecting appropriate stock, signage and display racks optimizing the sale of Folkways’ products at industry trade shows, conferences, and exhibitions.  Incumbent researches and contacts event coordinators ensuring optimum locations for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings’ publications, discussing all aspects of the label’s needs, responding to organizers’ requirements as appropriate and making sure that the label is represented in a proper manner. 


* Knowledge of and previous experience with practices and techniques of managing computer database programs and information, including the current versions of WordPerfect for Windows, MS Office, email, and the Internet. Ability and willingness to learn mail-order software as required.

* Background in music retail and/or educational marketing or distribution.

* Ability to work on multiple projects with multiple people simultaneously.

* Ability to communicate ideas clearly and concisely both orally and in writing.

* Ability to initiate and maintain good relations with retail and wholesale contacts.

* Skill in performing detail-oriented research and compiling information.

* Knowledge of and familiarity with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings catalogue, as well as other recordings available in related markets.

* Skill in analyzing problems and troubleshooting in response to customer inquiries.

* Knowledge of North American manufacturing and distribution systems. 


The Director of Marketing and Sales sets goals and makes assignments with specific instruction as to deadlines, priorities, and new or unusual requirements. Employee completes assignments for which standard practices and methods are applicable, referring unusual problems to the Supervisor.  


Guidelines include CFCH and SFW office manuals; Smithsonian Mail Services, U.S. Postal Services and Federal Express mailing forms and procedures which are applicable to work assignments.  Refers to supervisor those situations in which existing guidelines are inadequate or not applicable.  


Assignments typically involve initiating and maintaining contacts with alternative retail distributors, catalogues and stores, answering email, mail and phone inquiries; developing special event promotions, participating in the sales outreach at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, accurately entering information into the mail order system, ensuring orders are filled and shipped, monitoring inventory levels, monitoring receivables and notifying supervisor of unpaid accounts, managing the use of promotional materials and attending to all aspects of mail outs for promotional purposes as needed.


The purpose of the work is to assist the Director of Marketing & Sales in selling and promoting Smithsonian Folkways recordings through all domestic and international and non-traditional sales outlets, including but not limited to libraries, museums, educational and various retail outlets to achieve Folkways priorities.

The impact of the work is to generate revenues to support overall operations of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings which supports the mission of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to foster the preservation and understanding of grass-roots cultures and to be a positive reflection to the public upon the Smithsonian Institution.    


Personal contacts are with other Folkways and Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage staff as well as telephone and personal contact with retailers, distributors, the public and media for the purpose of promoting Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.


Work may include lifting heavy objects (as much as 50-70 pounds) a few times per week.


Working conditions are typical of a normal office environment.  The work is performed inside a clean, climate-controlled area. Some travel to represent Smithsonian Folkways at conferences, conventions, or other meetings will be required.