R&B superstar Beyonce lost out on an estimated $3.8 million (£2.53 million) in album sales after her self-titled new release was illegally downloaded 240,000 times.

The Crazy In Love hitmaker surprised fans on 13 December (13) by unveiling the project exclusively on iTunes.com with no prior announcement or marketing.

It shot to the top of music charts around the world, including in the U.S., where it shifted a total of 991,000 units in its first 10 days of release to retain the Billboard 200 chart crown for a second consecutive week.

However, during the same period, 240,000 fans not willing to pay the $15.99 (£10.70) for 14 new songs and 17 music videos flocked to illegal file-sharing websites to download the tracks, according to data analysts at Musicmetric.com.