For more than 30 years, Waterloo Record's owner and president John T. Kunz has been promoting independent sounds, championing local artists and building a steadfast community of music lovers. It's that spirit that has placed Kunz and Waterloo in the national spotlight as of late.
On November 13, The Music Business Association (Music Biz) announced that Kunz will receive the Independent Spirit Award at Music Biz 2015. The award, which was established in 2009, honors significant contributions to the independent music community "that embody the spirit of new thinking, entrepreneurship, and success in the industry." Kunz will receive the award in Nashville next May.
"With Waterloo Records, John has played a key role in keeping Austin’s rich musical tradition alive, while also pushing it forward," said James Donio, president of Music Biz in a press release. "He has long placed a premium on promoting local musicians, boasting a huge selection of independent releases along with rare imports."
It's not just Kunz' focus on independent and local music that has made Waterloo an icon and a trendsetter — it's his entrepreneurial spirit too. Waterloo was the first record store in Texas to import and stock CDs; and the partnerships he built with major record labels made big-name in-store appearances part of the store's tradition. (Willie Nelson, Nirvana, Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks have all played in the space.)
"When Waterloo first opened, many people said our policies would never work, but we’re happy to see that music fans keep coming back for our experience, customer service, and vast selection," said Kunz. "I’m thrilled to have been in the business all these years and look forward every day to working alongside the greatest record store team on the planet, serving the best music fans any store could have at Waterloo."
The Independent Spirit Award will be presented to Kunz during Music Biz's annual flagship event in Nashville on May 13, 2015.