Last we mentioned Britney Spears in this space, online hordes were battering Google in search of her sorry MTV Video Music Awards performance of "Gimme More" -- but thanks to MTV's parent Viacom's old-fashioned views of copyright, folks weren't finding much Britney love on the Web. (Viacom had been pulling down copies from YouTube, forcing people to go to MTV's site to see it.)
Today, a new search begins -- let's see if we can find Spears' very long-delayed music video for "Gimme More" on the Interwebs. Searching, searching, searching.... Why yes we can! But there are some catches. We'll dig in.
The "Gimme More" video -- washed-out lighting, Spears pole-dancing in some kind of club, lip-syncing her way into your heart -- is set to debut on MTV on Monday afternoon. But Spears' people, no dummies, decided to put it out online today. For sale. On iTunes. Smart move: Legions of B.S. fans have already made "Gimme More" iTunes No. 1 song, and many will surely want to snap up a high-quality, iPodable copy of the video, too. So the first and easiest way to find the Britney video is to click this iTunes Store link. You'll pay $1.99 for the privilege.
"Wait a minute!" you say. You want to see Spears do her thing but you don't want to pay a dime for it. You'd like to go the YouTube route. And here you find the video I've posted above...
So did that work for you? If so, lucky you (or whatever). If not, tough beans -- management appears to be trolling the Tubes, pulling down unauthorized versions. (You can also find one up at Brightcove.)
As far as I can tell, there is no official streaming version of the video on the Web. Why is this important? I can think of a compelling media business reason. It begins with this observation: There are two sorts of people interested in Britney Spears -- those who think of her as a pop princess and those who think of her as a trainwreck. The iTunes video is for the pop-princess audience; they love her and will pay for her.
But the PP audience is dwarfed by the trainwreck audience, those of us whose interest in Spears is minimal and fleeting and unkind.
You don't care enough about Spears to pay to download the "Gimme More" video to your iPod. But you might tolerate a 30-second ad to stream it once during your lunch break, if only because you've already read this week's Onion and are looking for some laughs. And there are millions of people like you -- and by not offering such a version, Britney's leaving money on the table!
I made a similar argument regarding MTV's video of Spears' VMA performance. Britney Spears' trainwreck audience is vast and lucrative. It's time her people start to mine it.