On a Tuesday in April, Linda Moran did two things that were a little unusual: She didn’t respond to phone calls or emails for most of the day, and she spent that time talking about herself.
To be clear, Moran enjoys talking -- there are no short conversations with Linda Moran -- but she doesn’t take naturally to putting herself at the center of her own stories. Moran, president/CEO of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, is one of the music industry’s first female power brokers, having risen through the ranks at Atlantic Records to become the first female executive at Warner Music Group in 1991. “I checked our records, and I see that Linda started working for our music group at Atlantic in 1970,” said Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin when she received the Recording Academy's New York Heroes Award in 2001. “And we’ve been working for her ever since.” She is known as “The Godmother,” part guardian angel and part consigliere, and dozens -- if not hundreds -- of executives, managers and artists call themselves her godchildren.
Her phone pings. Like good godchildren, Moran’s keep in touch. It might be one of the many C-suite players who turn to her for counsel on everything from business strategy to what to wear to an event. “When a truck is coming to hit me she’s the one saying, ‘You need to step to the left,’ ” says Evan Lamberg, president of Universal Music Publishing North America. Or it might be one of the many artists that she’ll fly cross-country to surprise at a concert or awards ceremony. Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds, who calls her “Mama L,” says Moran has been both a professional mentor and a personal “calming force.” “When I went through a separation with my wife, she was there giving me advice, and we ended up getting back together,” he says. “When someone is in the same industry as you, with decades of experience -- there’s a specific wisdom that comes from that.”