The day the music died: 10 music releases that crashed entire websites

The Internet and digital downloads have moved us past the times when the shelves of record stores were often cleared of every last copy of the latest hit single. But that doesn't mean that the mad onslaught of devoted fans can't still cause havoc as they scramble to get the newest songs.

The businesses behind online music stores and artists' sites often fail to predict the incredible and unusual demand for their services and, rather than queues at record shops, the shift to downloads now means that website crashes are the new normal for merchants caught by surprise.

Here are 10 music releases that have caused web crashes - it really can happen to anyone.

Chris Webby, Webster's Laboratory

Whilst Chris Webby probably hoped his sixth mixtape, Webster's Laboratory, would go down a storm, he probably didn't expect Datpiff, the site hosting the mixtape, to go down with it! The mixtape gained big exposure among British hip hop fans, and its popularity was boosted by the guest appearances from Gorilla Zoe, Freeway, Apathy and Kinetics.

Boards of Canada, Tomorrow's Harvest

Boards of Canada fans had to wait eight years before the group made their comeback in June 2013, with the album Tomorrow's Harvest. Rubbing salt into the wound, the long wait was extended for many when the live album playback crashed the band's official website under the massive demand.

Whilst everyone was excited about the record launch, Warp Records got a little bit carried away when they saw that Twitter went down for several minutes not long into the transmission. "Did @boctransmission break twitter? #tomorrowsharvest" they asked. I'm going to hazard a guess that it didn't...

Ellie Goulding and Tinie Tempah, Hanging On

When two of the biggest stars collaborate together on a single, online mayhem should be expected. Ellie Goulding's and Tinie Tempah's single, Hanging On, was no exception. In July 2012, Ellie announced the unveiling of the new song on Twitter. Fans swarmed onto Soundcloud, bringing the site down with them.

Ellie's urge to "Enjoy and share responsibly" no longer seemed the best advice and she later had to apologise on Twitter, saying "I'm sorry sound cloud d/l link is down it will be back up soon yous crashed it!!!"

My Bloody Valentine, Loveless

Communication is key to My Bloody Valentine's position on this list. Choosing to go live with the follow-up to their first album since 1991 solely on their website wasn't their best idea. The site quickly crashed as fans clambered to download a copy. However, the real mistake was not giving their fans any updates. With only a server error for information, fans quickly turned to social media to vent their frustration.

Kylie Minogue, All The Lovers

The hidden mystery of the "extra special" news on her website brought a mad rush of fans that caused Kylie Minogue's site to crash in April 2010. Thousands of devoted fans logged on, desperate for a glimpse of the video clip for her upcoming track, All The Lovers.

Kylie turned to Twitter, exclaiming "Aaahhhhhhhhh ... you've overloaded the system!!!

Arrgggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!... That is the strength of your combined power!!!!!! OMG (Oh my God)!!!!"

Coldplay, Violet Hill

Coldplay seemed to underestimate how many of their fans love a bargain when they released their single, Violet Hill, for free download on their website. Thousands immediately logged on, quickly crashing the site. By the end of the evening, only 900 fans had successfully managed to download the single for free, in many cases turning to fansites to taunt those who hadn't.

5 Seconds of Summer

5 Seconds of Summer demonstrated the immense power of "tweenagers" everywhere (and why we should probably harness that power as the only effective form of renewable energy) without even having to sing a note. Announcing that they'd hidden something in the maze of their Pacman-inspired video game was enough to provoke an onslaught of fans, crashing the website. Only a few fans managed to play the game before the site went down, and these winners were lucky enough to see the new album... artwork.

Radiohead, In Rainbows

You'd expect one of the most popular bands in the world to expect a fair amount of interest to an album launch, especially one where the fans could choose the price they want to pay. But Radiohead's website collapsed after waves of fans - first from Britain, followed by east coast USA, and then its west coast - all logged on upon hearing the announcement of the release of In Rainbows.

Lady Gaga, Born This Way

If you think it's just fan sites that fall short of user demand, then Lady Gaga will make an impression on you (and in a different, less 'creative' way than usual). Amazon.com decided to release Lady Gaga's album, Born This Way, for download at $0.99 for one day only. Sadly it wasn't long before the site buckled under the demand as fans flocked to download it at a full $11 discount.

Beyonce, Beyonce

Queen Bey tops the list with the release of her latest album, Beyonce, which impressively resulted in an amazing 80,000 downloads of her latest album in just three hours. However, iTunes' performance was less impressive as the site crashed under the strain of millions of hysterical fans who logged on after the album was placed on the website without any prior warning.

Even if a business doesn't have an avid following of millions of fans, like some of the artists mentioned above, website surges still happen and website owners need to be aware and ready to act. Predicting when a website might experience surges in traffic is the best way to ensure that consumers and stakeholders don't end up frustrated and unable to access the content they need or want. We saw this just recently when the DVLA website crashed as thousands of motorists logged on on the launch day of the new digitised tax discs service.

But not all traffic surges are predictable, Chris Webby never could have anticipated the demand for his sixth mixtape. Yet sadly customers are no more sympathetic when the surge is unexpected as when it is expected. The results for a business are always the same: lost revenues and angry customers.

Website owners need to know that when their website has a massive increase in demand they are ready to scale up and withstand the traffic. Scalability must be a priority to avoid lost revenue and damages to the brand. Because without the right resources, a website will buckle when the most eyes are upon them.

Steve Rawlinson is the MD of Tagadab.