BOSTON (AP) _ In a move that could help position the company as a source for online music, Lycos Inc. has reached a deal to acquire a firm that makes a PC audio player.

Lycos' acquisition of Internet Music Distribution Inc. follows its launch in February of a search engine that hunts the Internet specifically for music files posted online in a format known as MP3.

IMDI has offices in San Francisco and Campbell Calif., as well as Bozeman, Mont. It makes Sonique, an MP3 player that can be downloaded from the Internet.

``We're definitely interested in being a music destination for people on the web,'' said Kirsten Rankin, a Lycos spokeswoman. ``Music is a very popular content for people.''

So popular, in fact, that searches for music-related terms like ``MP3'' recently surpassed sexual terms as the most popular queries in Lycos' search engines, Rankin said.

According to terms of the deal announced Friday, Lycos will acquire IMDI for about 1.1 million shares of Lycos stock worth about $37 million, based on Lycos' closing stock price Friday of $34.06 1/4.

While Lycos won't directly profit from Sonique _ it's given away for free _ it will help Lycos offer something that other Internet portals don't.

``It helps them because Lycos is about building traffic, and funding themselves based on advertising,'' said Lise Buyer, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston. ``What they need to do is establish themselves in some proprietary niches.''

Along with MP3 files, the Sonique music player can play Microsoft Windows Media files and audio CDs, among other formats.