BY MIKE LEONARD
It’s a typical day at the office, which means Robert Meitus is a little disgusted and not surprised in the least.
“If you could see the contract that an artist sent me today — it’s a contract I wouldn’t let my client sign in a million years,” he says.
Meitus, 49, has seen it all before, too many times. “It has been customary for many artists, and these days, especially rap artists, to sign away high amounts of their rights for a chance. Just a chance to make it big. They [music labels] will dangle names out there. Oh, you could work with this name or that name. And the artists are so hungry for a chance they’ll sign anything because they just want to make it.”
Meitus grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, and enrolled at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Young and musically ambitious himself, he left school for opportunities in New York City, and then returned to Wabash to complete his bachelor’s degree. He then went on to earn a master’s in international affairs and human rights studies at Columbia University.
Music came calling again, however, and Meitus formed the eclectic folk/rock group, the New York Dorkestra. The band dropped New York from its title after Meitus persuaded the group to move to Bloomington, extolling it as a creative enclave with an affordable quality of life.
“I was playing music and doing academics and human rights work, and ultimately, I just merged my interests and went to the Indiana University School of Law and studied trademarks and copyrights and did everything I could to pursue my interests in a holistic way,” he says.
He is now a partner in Meitus Gelbert Rose LLP, which is based in Indianapolis. Meitus chairs the firm’s entertainment and media law practice. Clients range from singer Melissa Manchester to the Wes Montgomery estate to IU’s Jacobs School of Music, Emmis Communications, and the NCAA. Meitus also teaches entertainment law at the IU Maurer School of Law.
He’s married to singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer and manages her career as well. “We share so much,” he says. “We understand what each of us in our occupations do. It’s a very rewarding life.”
Somehow, there’s still time for music in his world. Meitus continues to perform with his melodic rock band, Blue Sky Back, and is looking forward to a major reunion with his Dorkestra bandmates in a twin billing with Newcomer, April 25 at the Brown County Playhouse. “Who knows?” he asks whimsically. “Maybe we’ll have so much fun I’ll stop being a lawyer and be a rock star again.”