2013 is going to be a crucial year for personal radio service Pandora, as it targets further global expansion, faces a powerful new rival from Apple, and ramps up the lobbying process for its next set of royalty rates, under the flag of the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

Pandora executives have been stressing the importance of the latter in all public statements recently, but on the competition side… not so much.

“My sense about Apple entering streaming radio is that Pandora will continue to do the same things we’ve done all these years and the rest will sort itself out,” CTO Tom Conrad tells Business Insider, filing the mooted iRadio alongside past competitors like Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and MySpace Music.

“I can say that generally I am not terribly competition-centric in my thinking of Pandora…”

Under the water, though, Pandora’s legs are paddling furiously to position its service against new rivals – its recent relaunch of its mobile apps as Pandora 4.0, for example, will help it roll new features out more quickly across both web and mobile.

Meanwhile, a House Subcommittee hearing on the Internet Radio Fairness Act late this month will be a key date for Pandora to press its royalties demands.

On the latter front, though, Pandora may be forced to respond further to a story that’s gaining legs – about stock sales by its executives since the company’s IPO last year.

Digital Music News reports that a small number of Pandora execs have sold $63m of shares in the last year – not unusual or unethical following an IPO. However, the story has the potential to turn toxic if opponents succeed in shifting the radio fairness debate to an argument about music artists being paid less if Pandora’s royalty commitments drop.