Neil Gillis (B.S. '84)
Neil Gillis Q & A:
What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
I was a commuter. So, my fondest memory was surely not driving back and forth! I loved all of what I did in the Music Department. They had a great teaching team and their adjunct faculty were some of the best players in the world – many played in the NY Philharmonic and the like.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
I worked for BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) as an administrator in their International Department. What I learned there was that music publishing was truly a powerhouse part of the creative business and that was a worldwide industry that I could make a career path in.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Music publishing is my field of specialty. It started when I would read credits on albums and wonder who all the companies were that owned the songs and then morphed into an internship at a big publishing house while at Hofstra. There is no direct career path to music publishing but it is one of the best businesses to marry passions of music and business, and I've been doing it for 30 years now.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Be respectful and gracious. Be receptive to criticism. Most important, be a sponge. You never stop learning. In my 30 years of doing this, I never know when something I learned along the way may help out in a business or creative situation. Also, learn to say “yes, I can,” and be fearless about doing it. You'd be amazed at how many amazing career moves I've made by simply saying yes to a situation I knew I could handle, but if I wasn't strong enough to believe it, I may have passed on the opportunity.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
How has your degree from Hofstra helped you?
It helped define my career path.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Listening to a record and knowing you signed that writer. Watching a movie or television show or ad and knowing you helped pick that song that is airing. Signing a writer on the merits of their music and helping to nurture them to the time when their career blossoms, it's magic.
Who in your field do you most admire?
The list is too long but if I had to name two people, it would be the team of Gamble & Huff. Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff were artists, songwriters, producers, label owners, etc. The list is too long, as well their lists of accomplishments, but know that they were the team responsible for The Sound of Philadelphia and all of the artists and songs that came from that legendary era of sound.