Fandistro, a Darien-based music industry marketing startup, is a finalist for a marketing and social engagement award at Midem 2013.

"The one thing that we've found is that artists are really good at communicating with their fan base," Michael Penfield, CEO and founder of Fandistro, said. "They make tweets and posts they get the word out to their fans, but those people are already their fans; what they're not so good at doing at is the next step, getting into their fans' network."

Midem, an international trade show tailored to the music industry, takes place every year in Cannes, France. It features conferences, competitions, networking events and live performances.

Penfield, who has a background as a musician, investment banker and website coder, said he's been to France several times before, but he's excited for the new level of visibility that the nomination will bring to the company.

"Just from a business perspective this is fantastic," he said. "We're already getting inquiries from companies around the country and even in Europe as well. Some opportunities have presented themselves that we might not have gotten otherwise."

Fandistro is one of 10 companies in the world chosen as a finalist for the award, and it's going up against companies from Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Belgium, as well as some other companies in the United States.

More Information

Fact box

"I was shocked that they chose us," Penfield said.

While at Midem, which runs from Jan. 26 to 29, Penfield and his business partner, Robert Grabowski, will attend coaching sessions, deliver a presentation to a panel of judges, participate in a Q and A session with the judges and conduct meetings with possible clients at their booth.

"What we do is we help artists basically get into their fans social networks, and once they're in those social networks help them to bring in new networks," Penfield said of the 5-month-old business, which started as an idea when Penfield was finding ways to promote his new album. Penfield and Grabowski are both musicians.

"We look at the world from the artist's perspective," Penfield said.

Over the past three months Penfield and Grabowski have been testing the concept of gaining more fans by going through your existing fans' social networking sites and at Midem Penfield will deliver the results of those tests.

One test involved an artist from the UK, Cosmo Jarvis, a 20-something-year-old who performs acoustic pop.

"We basically did a promotion with him where we got 20 of his fans to participate," Penfield explained. "Those 20 fans made a total of about 80 posts into their networks using primarily Facebook, but probably a quarter to a third were Twitter and Google+."

As a result of those 80 posts there were several thousand visits through those to Jarvis' Fandistro page, and he gained about 390 new fans from those 80 posts.

"And those are sort of legitimate new fans we got Twitter handles and emails for each of them," Penfield said. "It's not like a Facebook thumbs up. You've got to register with Fandistro and we get access to your email, and you're authorizing us as a fan to provide your information to the artist."

Penfield said he and Grabowski were "blown away" by the results of that test.

"We've had a couple of others that have been also very successful and we're experimenting with different types of promotions and which one works best," Penfield said. "We're learning a lot right now."

Penfield said he thinks the [music] industry is ready to think about the next level of marketing through the fan, and that's what Fandistro is all about. Penfield said the companies who have won the award in the past have had great access to capital, which is one of the most important things for Fandistro.

Something else that makes Fandistro unique is each artist who signs up gets to choose a default charity, and 20 percent of all sales made through Fandistro benefit that charity. Currently they have around 75 charities, including like Doctors Without Borders, Americares and Kids in Distressed Situations.

Aside from the capital the win could bring, Penfield said it also brings a huge stamp of approval in the music industry.

"Just being in the top 10 is a pretty big stamp of approval," Penfield said.; 203-972-4407;