Frances W. Preston, president/CEO of performing rights body BMI for the past 18 years, is resigning from her post, effective this August. Executive VP Del Bryant has been named as Preston's replacemen

Frances W. Preston, president/CEO of performing rights body BMI for the past 18 years, is resigning from her post, effective this August. Executive VP Del Bryant has been named as Preston's replacement, but the outgoing president/CEO will stay on as President Emeritus from August until year's end. She will then become a consultant.

John Cody will retain his post as Chief Operating Officer and will assist Bryant in overseeing BMI's day-to-day operations.

Preston says in a statement that the move was "carefully planned" and Bryant's 2002 appointment to the executive VP position was calculated as a stepping stone to succeeding Preston.

"I will continue to offer my insights and counsel to BMI during a transitional period through the end of the year as President Emeritus," Preston says. "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."

Preston joined BMI in 1958 in the Nashville regional office, was named senior VP of performing rights in 1985 and was promoted to president/CEO the following year. Since then, BMI's revenues have grown more than three times -- from $189 million to almost $630 million.

BMI's sources of revenue have been revolutionized in the Preston era, bringing in significant new income streams from non-broadcast media, new technology and international revenues.

Says Bill Velez, president of SESAC, who put in four years previously with BMI as a staffer, "Frances is a hero to me. I choose one word to describe her, one that I reserve for very few -- courageous. The courage to take on tough battles because the cause is right and because someone has to lead."

"We at ASCAP have always had the utmost respect for Frances," adds John LoFrumento, ASCAP's CEO. "I have greatly enjoyed working with her to enhance the recognition of American music around the world."