Austin Record Convention founder preserves multi-generational love of vinyl

Jordyn Zitman

Vinyl records have been a major player in the American music industry for almost a century, despite the development of new ways to listen. Records will always have a place in music if Doug Hanners has anything to say about it.

On Sept. 30, thousands of LPs, vinyl records and customers eager to sift through them will fill the Palmer Events Center for the Austin Record Convention. For event founder Doug Hanners, this year’s event represents decades of hard work and a multi-generational love of vinyl records.

At a young age, Doug Hanners was introduced to vinyl records by his father, who organized community dances at a YMCA in West Texas — the soundtrack to which was a collection of carefully selected vinyl.

After moving to Austin for college, Doug Hanners carried on his family’s love of vinyl by working at a record shop on Guadalupe Street, which he said was his ultimate inspiration to create the convention.

“I realized that vinyl records, new and old, were very desirable to people,” Doug Hanners said. “We decided to start a show of it so record collectors of all types could enjoy them.”

In 1981, Doug Hanners and fellow vinyl enthusiasts created the Austin Record Convention, which accommodates over 300 vinyl dealers and is now the largest of its kind in the country.

Although the rise of new modes of listening, such as iTunes and CD, may lead some to believe that vinyl music has lost its footing in the music industry, record sales have been increasing for the past decade. Forbes predicts that more than 40 million records will be sold in 2017, nearly matching sales in 1981.

Eve Monsees, owner of Antone’s Record Shop on Guadalupe Street, has been a firsthand witness to this trend.

“We definitely have more college-aged students now than we did when I first started working here,” Monsees said. “We are seeing a great resurgence in vinyl.”

Though longtime collectors still frequent her store, Monsees said she’s noticed many young people prefer vinyl records to digital music.

“Our ears are made for listening to music in the analog, the old-school way,” Hanners said.

Doug Hanners said he suspects his son grew fond of vinyl for this very reason. As a child, Nathan Hanners often accompanied his father to the convention, where his education in vinyl records continued.

“I grew up in a house stacked full of vinyl records,” Nathan Hanners said. “They were always sort of in the background of my whole childhood.”

Nathan Hanners has two young daughters of his own and has already begun to expose them to vinyl.

“The oldest one is starting to get into music … she’s sometimes interested in having it on a record,” Nathan Hanners said. “My littlest is obsessed with Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ record.”

Nathan Hanners hopes his own daughters will carry on the convention one day. As long as vinyl records continue to reach a community of collectors, listeners and fans, he said there will be a place for them at the Austin Record Convention.

“Vinyl will always have a significant part to play in music,” Doug Hanners said. “I don’t see how it could be any other way.”