What Else? Rdio vs. Spotify, Pandora vs. Spotify, ERA Stats, SXSW Sitings, Kim Dotcom…

Lots of stuff bubbling in the stream this morning, particularly from Spotify and Rdio.  Spotify is slowly unwrapping its web-based version, still in beta, which is putting all sorts of heat on competitors.  Like, Rdio, which just announced 7 new countries for a broader imprint of 24.  The Rdio expansion, which includes Mexico, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, and Austria, was just announced at SXSW and coincides with some nice perks to the iOS app.

Back to Spotify, here’s something interesting: according to a report now surfacing in Bloomberg, it now looks like the company is close to sealing major labels deals for Pandora-like radio play outside of the US.  You know, the licenses that Pandora can’t quite negotiate outside of the States and Australia?  That follows word of negotiations between the majors and Apple, apparently for rates that would halve those of Pandora (at least that was the rumored request…)

Which brings us to an interesting note from London this morning, from none other than the Entertainment Retail Association (ERA).  The Brit-sober email points to outstandingly large volumes of music streaming in 2012: in fact, a total of 3.7 billion streams beats cumulative singles sales in Britian for the past 60 years!  Yet the broader drag on entertainment spending is a problem: “However the growth in digital was insufficient to prevent the entertainment market suffering an overall decline,” the group relayed. “Combined sales of music, video and games declined 12 percent in 2012 to £4,213.4m.”

Oh, SXSW, where music is just getting started.  We’ve already spotted a few of the usual executive suspects, including a Driscoll-dining Vince Bannon and Melinda Lee of Getty Images, Stella Mowen of Amazon, and Evan Lowenstein of StageIt.  Then there’s Sonicbids founder Panos Panay, who’s undoubtedly sporting a nice, post-acquisition glow, not to mention Live Nation Labs tinkerers Joe Fleischer, Ethan Kaplan and Eric Garland (who we’re yet to spot).  Brian Felsen (president of CD Baby and BookBaby) is also in the mix, along with Nick Rosenberg and his brother, Peter, of Hot 97 stature (get ready for his rap-infused showcase ahead)…

Anyway, the list obviously goes on and on, but let’s link up!  Drop me a note at paulr@ to coordinate something, lure me to your showcase, seduce me with Texas-sized gifts, etc.  Or, come up to me after one of my illuminating panels at the Austin Convention Center (happening Wednesday and Thursday…)

Oh, there’s one more face appearing that SXSW: Kim Dotcom.  The MEGA mogul Skype’d in from New Zealand for an interview, and railed against a stodgy, protectionist Hollywood.  But more interestingly, he also estimated that Megabox – the upcoming music service – would be ready to rock in about six months.

More ahead! Paul…