While the Japanese music industry ended last year on a promise of change, 2013 has highlighted a few of the ingrained practices that are going to be a little bit more difficult to dislodge.

One industry story that caught the interest of the international press was the news that Japan had overtaken the U.S. as the world's largest music market. Indeed, the domestic music business in 2012 actually registered a small rise on the previous year, thanks largely to a massive surge in singles sales driven by fans of idol groups as well as a confluence of comeback albums and greatest hits compilations released by golden oldies.

Combined with that was a collapse in digital sales that seems to have been driven largely by a boom in smartphone use. Recent shifts in smartphone use devastated the old mobile music download market, forcing retailers that had become reliant on consumers' music downloads to compete with a growing apps market at a time when smartphone users' incomes were stagnating.