Rhapsody, the digital love-child of Real Networks and MTV, is best known for its DRM'd subscription music service. As such, the globe's population of sheep-white-earbudded, sidewalk zombies have been completely off limits to its charms. Until today. While its DRM'd subscription deals remain in place, Rhapsody is now offering unprotected MP3 downloads via its Rhapsody MP3 store and via partners including Verizon's VCAST over-the-air service and Yahoo. We're talking 5 million DRM-free tracks (generally priced at $0.99 per song, $9.99 per album) from Indies and the four majors. Uniquely, all tracks can be previewed in full before downloading. Rhapsody VP, Neil Smith said, "We're no longer competing with the iPod, we're embracing it." Perhaps, but Rhapsody's planned $50 million marketing assault on iTunes with the help of MTV's TV networks doesn't exactly make them best of friends. We're not DRM-free across the industry yet (in fact, far from it), but things are certainly moving in that direction.

Update: Signup now with the Rhapsody MP3 store and get a $10 credit which can be applied to your first album.

[Via Reuters]