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.
Neil Gillis (B.S. ’84) has spent his entire career in music publishing and is currently president of Round Hill Music. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in New York with offices in Los Angeles and Nashville, Round Hill Music, is a full service music publisher and creative rights management company. Round Hill Music brings together a seasoned team of music publishing and investment professionals and owns or administers music recorded and performed by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Bon Jovi, Daughtry, Steve Perry, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Turner, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Def Leppard, Carrie Underwood, Backstreet Boys, Bruno Mars, Aerosmith and Katy Perry, among many other artists. Songs in the company's catalogs include "All of Me," "Living in America," "Bye, Bye, Bye," "Waking Up in Vegas," "How Do You Stop," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There," "I'm Alive", "Inside Your Heaven", "If It Does Not Snow on Christmas," "Oh Sherrie," "Grenade," "Just the Way You Are," "Jaded," "Crawling Back to You," and thousands of other amazing songs.
Prior to his time with Round Hill Music, Neil was president, North America and global head creative for S1 songs America. He had held that role since July 1, 2007. Previously, Neil was the president and chief operating officer of Dimensional Music Publishing, LLC (DMP). In that role he managed all aspects of this uniquely diverse publishing company and helped to build upon the Dreamworks Music Publishing platform DMP purchased. Prior to that, he was the general manager (East Coast) for the Concord Music Group (CMG), where he helped establish a New York presence for CMG while also assisting in many aspects of its business operations, including bringing its product to Madison Avenue and certain film and television clients, helping solidify their strategic partnerships, and also assisting with the creative aspects of international licensing.
Earlier in his career, Neil spent 16 years with Warner/Chappell Music (WCM). During the last five years of that tenure he was senior vice president, creative music solutions for WCM. In that role, he brought the massive WCM catalog to Madison Avenue, brought the catalog to the video game community, worked on East Coast-based film and television projects, signed writers and catalogs, worked with developing artists and helped establish a creative business connection to many of the most important catalogs and writers within the WCM family. During the first 11 years of his WCM tenure, he was vice president, copyright/licensing. In that role he was responsible for most of the day-to-day operating areas including mechanical licensing, contract administration, performance rights administration, cue sheet administration, international administration, sampling creative and licensing, copyright related business affairs functions, business liaison to royalties and synch, and development of the business side of IT tools enhancements.
Prior to WCM, Neil worked for Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) as head of international assets. In that role, he was responsible for managing all aspects of performance rights for BMI assets in international territories and for international assets in the BMI territory.
Cherry Lane Music is where Neil got his corporate start as an intern back in the early 1980s. He has been a successful teacher (UCLA extension for many years), and has served as an adjunct professor with a recent post at Nassau Community College; a lecturer (UCLA, USC, Baruch College, Berklee College of Music, University of the Pacific, New York University, Hofstra University, The Liverpool Institute); a writer (business column in the Performing Songwriter during the early ’90’s); a contributor to many industry books including most recently Bobby Borg’s The Musicians Handbook (Billboard Books); and as a performer (classically trained French horn player and jazz trained guitar player) and composer (countless contributions to television shows and cartoons).
Neil is a board member of the NMPA, BMI Foundation, the New York Chapter of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP), Johnny Mercer Foundation, and member of BMI, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Musicians Union Local 802. He resides on Long Island with his beautiful wife, Donna, and their three amazing kids, Jonathan, Mari Catherine and Emma.