Frances Preston to Relinquish Leadership of BMI

Successor Del Bryant Has Strong Country Connections

BMI president and CEO Frances W. Preston is leaving the position she has held for the past 18 years. In making the announcement, Preston also confirmed that BMI executive vice president Del Bryant has been named her successor.

The son of songwriters and Country Music Hall of Fame members Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, he will join chief operating officer John Cody in leading the performing rights organization after Preston steps down in August to become BMI’s president emeritus. Bryant began working in BMI’s Nashville office in 1972 and moved to New York in 1988 when he was promoted to vice president of performing rights.

BMI represents some 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in all genres of music. Founded in 1939, BMI collects license fees for the public performance of songs, including on radio, television, Internet and live concerts.

Preston worked as a receptionist at WSM Radio in Nashville before being hired by BMI in 1958 to open a regional office to serve country songwriters and music publishers. In doing so, she played a key role in establishing Nashville as an international music center. In 1964, she became one of BMI’s vice presidents. Preston moved to BMI’s New York office in 1985 when she was named senior vice president of performing rights. She became BMI’s president and CEO in 1986.

In making the latest announcement during the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, the 69-year-old Preston said, “More than two years ago, the board and I began developing a strategic plan for the continuation of leadership in BMI’s management. The first step in this carefully-planned management transition came in the fall of 2002 when we named Del Bryant as BMI’s executive vice president and John Cody as chief operating officer. This year we will take the next step in this transition.”

Preston added, “I will continue to offer my insights and counsel to BMI during a transitional period through the end of the year as president emeritus. I also look forward to continuing to assist BMI in the future in areas where my experience and network of personal and business relationships can be of value.”

Bryant noted, “For over 32 years I have admired Frances’ never-ending desire to serve the songwriting community and her philanthropic nature. She is an exceptional executive, leader, role model and friend.”

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.