Random acts of kindness. Learn from Patrick Watson and the Haldern Pop Festival.

by Erwin Elling. Tagged ‘’ and ‘’ and ‘


During my visit to this year’s Haldern Pop Festival one act stood out and inspired me. As always, music is a big source of inspiration to me and I thought I should share this one as well:

Saturday night, 3AM. The last show of the festival has just ended. People are heading back to the campside or enjoying their last drinks. Somewhere between those still hanging around, three men come walking up with their instrument cases and start unpacking. Before we know it, a little crowd gathers. Patrick Watson and his band – who we’ve seen on the main stage earlier that day – pick up their instruments. They start playing some tunes. The crowd starts singing along. New work is created, jamming and making up lyrics on the spot, with the help of those who still feel creative. The show ends as swiftly as it starts, leaving a select group of happy and surprised festival goers with a great story.

Learn something from Watson here:

  • Go where your audience is. Besides playing the mainstage, Watson and his band gave just a little extra, selflessly. They showed a genuine interest and were enjoying it as much as the audience.
  • Always deliver quality content. Even at this hour, great songs are key to providing a great experience.
  • Engage people to participate. In this case by conversing, by having people sing and jam along and by constantly encouraging people to take part (and go crazy).
  • Have perfect timing. Showing up unexpectedly, on a dead moment just after the last band has ended. Just perfect.
  • Provide an experience that’s hard to forget and easy to share. I’m sure I’m not the only one writing about or telling this to friends. The whole thing is just a great story. It’s made to stick.
  • Small but effective is fine. You don’t have to be a large organization (like KLM) or invest a lot to show your random acts of kindness. The biggest investment Watson and his band made was some hours of sleep (which he’d probably have missed anyway).

It’s no coincidence something like this happens at a festival like Haldern Pop. We received tickets with our names written on them, by hand. The audience blindly seems to buy tickets and repeatedly sells out the festival well before the lineup is complete. Despite its popularity, the festival does not grow excessively. Some artists stay on the campsite for the whole festival and come back years in a row, even without being on the bill. Haldern Pop stands out in keeping things intimate and personal and this seems to reflect on everyone there.

Check out a recording of the session below (my girlfriend somehow came up with the Yellow Socks) and be sure to listen to more of Watson’s music or catch him playing live!

Kindness is infectious. Think about how you can infect your company and your audience. Where do they hang out? What little extra can you do? I’m curious to hear your ideas and stories!

This is a slightly altered repost from the blog of Erwin’s previous company Inspired by Coffee.