Be yourself.  Such a simple statement, yet when we think about it, it is one of the most daunting tasks we all have to face throughout the span of our entire lives.  Yes, that’s right…our entire lives.  From the day we are born, until the day we perish, we are searching for our identity.  Well, what if we never truly find ourselves?  That’s scary to think about isn’t it?  Scary yes, but you should be comforted by the fact that we’re all experiencing this together.  This is a journey that we all face.  You may not have been presented with the same challenge as the person sitting next to you, but each of us has our own issues to overcome.  Our problems are subjective.  What might be a big deal to you may not be to someone else and vice versa.  So, instead of trying to invalidate someone else’s story, why not try to empathize and understand that we are all different?  Think about it.  If we were to empathize a little more, and invalidate a little less, we could all work towards a common goal more effectively, right?

Since she was a child, Brooke Ferguson (now 22) has always held a passion for music – singing, writing music, playing piano and clarinet.  She has been connected to the dance music culture specifically for roughly eight or nine years now; she has been attending festivals, shows, and listening to the music on a regular basis.  Therefore, she has witnessed firsthand the positive impact of this culture and how it has a unique ability to help people externalize their emotions.  In addition, Brooke is a psychology major and has developed a love for understanding the human mind and helping people find their identity.  That being said, she has seen a surreal connection between the mind and dance music.  Since joining the music industry, however, she has also become aware of the problems associated with this culture and scene.  While she could go on for days about the prevalence of drug use in dance music, it is something that she feels does not need to be brought to light since it occurs in all aspects of society.  Instead, Brooke has identified a couple of underlying issues that have not really been brought up too much in this culture due in part to our unawareness as a mass. For Brooke, she has watched the industry digress on a personal level between individuals to which there is almost no empathy being reciprocated between parties. Brooke has watched a handful of people lose themselves in the ruthless behavior of certain individuals and sees an area of the industry that desperately needs to be salvaged. Using the tools she has attained through studying psychology and being a part of this culture and industry, her goal is to one day find a method for people to connect on and engage in a more positive and professional manner.

Roughly a year ago, one of Brooke’s friends had recommended that she start writing for music blogs.  If she did so, she would be able to combine her passions: music, writing, and self-expression.  Well, Brooke took her friend’s advice and began writing for a small blog called Tugboat, which ended earlier this year.  As a writer, she met several people in the music industry, including Clayton Warwick – part owner of The Music Ninja.  At the time, The Music Ninja was really starting to build a solid reputation and presented Brooke with a great opportunity.  The Music Ninja’s focus is not on releasing content, but to give their writers a platform to express themselves and let their voices be heard while providing listeners with solid music all at the same time.  Brooke believed that joining this team was her calling so she accepted the offer and became a writer for the site.  Recently, she has taken on more of an editor’s role, along with running the “Friday Party Playlist” (formerly known as Clayton’s Party Playlist).

Being a part of The Music Ninja, both as a writer and editor, has enabled Brooke to gain respect in this industry.  However, Brooke admits that gaining respect has not been an easy journey, especially as a young female in a male-dominated environment. For her, being taken seriously has been an uphill battle from the get-go.

As most of us are aware, there are several profound stereotypes about females Brooke’s age that deal with acquiring jobs in this industry.  While some females do use such tactics, the most successful do not.  However, because of these stigmas, it has created a unique challenge for females pursuing a career in the music industry.  Therefore, like many others, Brooke has had to leap several hurdles in order to gain people’s attention, whilst still maintaining her integrity.  With practice comes perfection though, right?  The more she networks and approaches new people, the more she learns how to separate herself from others.  According to Brooke, the best and most effective way of reaching out to others in the industry is to keep it light, genuine, and humorous.  In fact, often times she will send pictures of cats when she is first being introduced to someone because for her, she wants to let people know she has a fun side, all while getting a job done.  To Brooke, using humor is such a great way to start a conversation because we can all relate to making each other laugh.  This signifies that she is not afraid to be herself, and as a result, has found a way to separate herself from other females trying to establish a career in the music industry.  Even though humor is important, she still makes her intentions very clear, understands the boundaries, and respects those she is trying to befriend.

In addition to her position at The Music Ninja, Brooke is involved in several other sectors of the music industry – working as a publicist for a record label (Next Wave), artist management (Samuel Proffitt), and occasionally does vocal work for people.  Not to mention she also works a side job unrelated to the music industry in order to maintain a stable income flow. She believes it’s important for her to gain an understanding of as many positions as possible so that she can continue learning and evolving inside and outside of the music industry.  Like a lot of us, Brooke enjoys staying busy because it promotes the importance of productivity. We all eventually get to a period where we exhaust all of our resources and she has reached those points thus far in her career advancements. Brooke’s method to staying balanced is prioritizing each responsibility and tackling on one project at a time.  The idea is to simplify your life rather than make it chaotic. For example, if Brooke has a release coming up, she dedicates as much time to that as possible and puts some of her other work on hold. In the beginning, she was handling far too much work than she could take on and eventually set herself up for failure.  However, it is through the process of trial and error where she learned how much work she could handle and the level at which she could get projects done.  The most important part of her growth is due to her effective use of communication and time management. We often times get to a point where we have so much work on our cart that we fall off the wagon; by reaching out to clients and keeping them up to date with the status of a project, there is little to no room for false assumptions.

Even though it has been a difficult journey for Brooke, it has been a journey worthwhile.  Everyday she is learning from her mistakes by turning each negative into a life lesson to develop on.  She sticks to what she believes and does not let those around her make her question her integrity as a human being. The Music Ninja has played a large role in giving Brooke a voice and has helped her feel more confident and motivated to spread this level of awareness to others.  That being said, Brooke has high hopes of creating an idealistic platform that allows others to shout their voices in a healthy and resolving way.  She aspires to further her writing and one day become a motivational speaker to share her experience with others in a positive limelight. For Brooke, she wants others to know she cares about them on both a professional and personal level – empathy is something she feels can turn this industry into a much more welcoming environment.

To Brooke, waking up in the morning and feeling completely content with the position you’re at in life, is the greatest accomplishment for the human soul.  Her goal is to bring a genuine presence to the music industry by displaying kindness, sincerity, and honesty.  Through these ethical behaviors, Brooke will be able to make a very positive impact here in the music industry and will be well on her way to making it more of a supportive and collaborative community.

Check out next week’s feature!

Episode 020 - Milo & Otis