William Tenney is an American music industry executive, entrepreneur, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. He’s the founding partner at SunPop, where he’s independently sold more than 300,000 records with artists like Sara Bareilles, Landon Cube, Lizzy McAlpine, and more. Previously he was Head of Streaming Strategy & Promotion at Crush Music, and was named a 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree. Tenney holds a degree in Music Industry & Business Administration from Northeastern University.
We spoke with Will about his career. Read on!
Tell us about how you got your start in the music industry, and how it lead to the work you do today.
Once when I was 6 or 7 years old, I asked my mother how music made it onto the radio, into stores, and into the hands of listeners. I then spent the subsequent 24 years obsessively trying to figure that out.
I loved the idea of there being a “machine” behind all the music I listened to – and I wanted to be a part of it. I’d organize talent shows at school and sell cassette tapes to my neighbors – anything to be “on my way.” Then as I got older, that escalated to routing tours, building recording studios, and managing artists.
Now I use those years of learning and my lifelong passion for the music business to guide others. In my opinion, it’s the most fun game of chess you can play.
Is there a success story or career milestone that you are most proud of?
I think my proudest moment was giving my parents my first platinum record. I had the plaque engraved with their names as a thank you for their lifetime of sacrifice and tolerance.
Are there any projects you’re working on or company updates that you’re most excited about?
I’m particularly excited about our footing in the rock space right now. Our partnership with the legendary Epitaph Records is stronger than ever – we signed aldrch together (who’s proving to be a cornerstone producer for the next generation). We also have poptropicaslutz! there, who (in approach) remind me closely of the early Fall Out Boy days.
If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you know that Quarters Of Change has had a whirlwind year, reviving early 2000’s Indie/Alternative the same way that Pop-Punk has been recently.
Exit’s working on their new album (partially with Billy Martin of Good Charlotte, and Vinnie Caruana of The Movielife/I Am The Avalanche), on the heels of songs with Kellin Quinn, Landon Cube, 44blonde, and boyband. They’ve got a killer drummer.
Earlier this year, we had fun moments with Goody Grace, MICO, and Stephen Dawes.
And in the legacy space, we’re talking with Better Than Ezra – who’s 35 year career boasts millions of albums sold. It’s a lot of fun!
Outside of your work in music, do you have any other hobbies/ particular areas of expertise/interest etc.?
I really like video games (particularly retro video games), but I don’t have much time to play. We have two arcade machines in our apartment – PacMan and Street Fighter. Once a week I play Fortnite with my brother and sister, too.
Anything else to add?
My father was always adamant about never getting too high or too low – this life is a roller coaster and you have to stay emotionally centered. My homie Marc Scibilia made a great video about this recently. We could probably all learn a thing or two from him.