Bill Velez exits after 11 years.

Pat Collins has been promoted to president/COO of Nashville-based performing rights organization SESAC, Billboard.biz has learned. Collins succeeds Bill Velez, who has stepped down after 11 years with the company, the last nine at its helm.

Collins, who was SESAC's senior VP of licensing, reports to chairman/CEO Stephen Swid. Collins has been with the company for nine years and also serves on its board of directors. Prior to joining SESAC, he spent 22 years at ASCAP, where he directed the general licensing and national sales divisions.

Swid and co-chairmen Freddie Gershon and Ira Smith were in Nashville today (June 1) to make the announcement of Velez's departure and Collins' promotion to the surprised Nashville staff. That announcement was followed by conference calls to the New York and Los Angeles offices.

Swid, Gershon and Smith praised Velez for his efforts in helping the company grow. They tell Billboard.biz that Collins possesses a different skill set that will position the company for future growth.

Velez will remain with the company as a consultant on two pending projects. He will step down from the company's board at the completion of those tasks.

SESAC will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year.

The change at the top of SESAC follows the announcement last month that Frances Preston will step down as president/CEO of BMI in August.