COOPER HONORS FRANCES PRESTON
June 19, 2012
Congressman Cooper joined Rep. Berman in introducing the following statement into the Congressional Record, honoring Frances Preston.
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD– TRIBUTE TO FRANCES PRESTON
Mr. Speaker I am joined by my colleagues Congressmen Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Marsha Blackburn, Jerrold Nadler, Howard Coble, Lamar Smith, Barney Frank, and John Conyers to honor the life and memory of one of the First Ladies of American music, Frances W. Preston, the former president and Chief Executive Officer of Broadcast Music Inc., (BMI).
Frances Preston was a trailblazer who opened up doors of opportunity for a new generation of female executives in the music and entertainment industries. No barriers stopped Frances in advocating for songwriters’ rights, and on Capitol Hill, her tireless advocacy was critical in protecting the music industry. Her counsel was indispensible and we sought it often.
The business acumen of Frances Preston was exceeded only by her charisma and charm, and by the respect, affection and admiration her colleagues and peers had for her. She was lauded for her empathy and for the gracious manner in which she treated every person, from the hottest star to the humblest worker. She was an exceptional executive, leader, role model and friend.
With Frances at its head, BMI grew to represent over 300,000 American and foreign songwriters, composers and music publishers in licensing music, and collecting and distributing royalties from play on radio and in television, films, ads and other media. Its artists represent all types of music and its catalog contains 4.5 million works. During her 18 years as president, its revenue grew more than three times to more than $625 million.
BMI has become an internationally respected leader and a unique success story as the entertainment industry has been transformed by digital technology and globalization. Sensitive to the changing world of music, Frances focused on domestic licensing, foreign performing rights, legislation for fair compensation for writers and publishers, and copyright protection.
Frances joined BMI in 1958 after working in music and broadcasting in Nashville. She opened BMI’s regional office there, and led her company to preeminence in the South, signing writers and publishers with roots in both country and other types of music.
In 1964, the year the Nashville BMI building opened on Music Row,Frances became a vice president of BMI – reportedly, the first woman corporate executive inTennessee.
She has often been called a trailblazer in the music business but Frances was also a trailblazer among women. She was the first woman Rotarian in the state of Tennessee. She was the first woman to work with the National Chamber of Commerce. She was one of the first four women – and the first businesswoman – to be invited to join the Friars Club in New York and the first woman to serve on their board of governors.
Frances was an industry pioneer and a compassionate humanitarian who touched the lives of many people, and she will be sorely missed.