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Frances W. Preston named Midem 1999

"Person of the Year"

Frances W. Preston, President and CEO of BMI, the American performing rights organization, will receive the "Nesuhi Ertegun Person of the Year" Trophy at MIDEM, January 24-28, 1999. She will be the seventh person and the first woman to receive the prestigious international accolade in Cannes.

The trophy was created in 1989 by Xavier Roy, Chief Executive, REED MIDEM ORGANIZATION, to recognize outstanding music industry figures, and honor their lifetime of achievement. "Frances Preston has not only achieved excellence and success in the field of performing rights with a savvy, business flair and a true love of music," said Roy, "she has also been the trusted and steadfast champion of thousands of songwriters and music publishers, and has enriched both the creative and business sides of the music community. She has already left an indelible imprint on the music business in America and around the world, and she will continue to provide that kind of leadership in her many industry roles over the coming years."

Preston said: "I am truly pleased to be selected as the recipient of the Person of the Year trophy at MIDEM 99. It is indeed an honor to receive an award inaugurated for the legendary Nesuhi Ertegun, the quintessential combination of visionary music man and successful business executive, and to join a list which includes such highly respected creative and business executives and comrades in the world of authors rights. I have always striven to focus the spotlight on the crucial role of the musical creator, and in honoring me, the MIDEM Organization also honors them".

Preston joined BMI, a music performing rights organization which today represents more than 200,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, in 1958 after working in the music broadcasting industries in Nashville, Tennessee. She opened BMI's Southern Regional office and quickly led the organization to a position of preeminence in the area, bringing such legendary talents as BB King, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and Dolly Parton to BMI's roster. She is widely credited as one of the leading music industry executives who made possible the explosion of the American musical genres, rock, blues, R&B,;country and gospel on the world stage in 1960s and 70s. She was appointed Senior Vice President, Performing rights in 1985, and President and CEO in 1986. She is a member of MBI's Board of Directors.

Preston has remained politically vigilant when it comes to the rights and incomes of songwriters, composers, and publishers and has vigorously supported the fight for legislation to assure fair compensation to songwriters and performers in the digital age. She played a key role in extending copyright protection to older compositions though the Copyright Amendments Act of 1992 and supports the current efforts to extend the copyright term to life of the composer plus 70 years, instead of 50 years, the current term in the U.S.. While most European countries have already adopted this extended term, it remains a hotly debated issue in the U.S. Congress.

Preston has served as a member of the CISAC Executive Bureau, and has been one of the organization most vocal supporters of the groundbreaking Common Information System (CIS), which will give authors societies and copyright organizations the digital tools they need to work efficiently in the age of the Internet. She was recently elected President of the CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) Canada/USA Committee. She has conferred with leaders of the Chinese government to discuss securing musical copyrights in the People's Republic, and has worked closely with many of the new copyright agencies in the emerging Eastern European nations.

Whilst building BMI into a music industry powerhouse, Preston continues to play a vital role in a number of others organizations, and has held numerous high level professional and civic posts. She has served as a member of Vice President Al Gores's National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council. Prior to this, she acted on the commission for the White House Record Library during the administration of President Jimmy Carter. She was the first non-performing woman to be invited to join New York's Prestigious Friar's Club in 1993, and she became the first woman appointed to their Board of Directors.

Texas Music Magazine   Vol. 10  No. 1  January 2001





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