After reaching a substantial number of new fans with a Stranger Things placement last year – and as vinyl’s nearly two-decade-long commercial resurgence continues – Metallica has officially purchased an entire record pressing plant.
Alexandria, Virginia-based Furnace Record Pressing just recently announced that it had sold a “majority interest” to the more than four-decade-old act. The deal arrives about one month before Metallica will release its 11th studio album, 72 Seasons, and kick off a world tour with a pair of shows in Amsterdam.
Founded in 1996 by industry vet Eric Astor (who doubles as a co-founder of Alliance-distributed vinyl-care company VinylStyl and as a partner at ORG Music), Furnace has since 2014 “produced more than five million pieces of Metallica vinyl,” according to the involved parties. Bearing in mind the staggering figure and vinyl’s ongoing production woes, the heavy-metal mainstay took the opportunity to tout Furnace’s “capacity to meet the massive demand for Metallica vinyl.”
Similarly, Metallica – which is selling everything from jackets to action figures and skateboard decks to t-shirts on its website – also highlighted the technical capabilities of Furnace, which is said to operate out of a 70,000-square-foot facility. Per the much-streamed group, the record manufacturer offers “standard and heavyweight pressings, color vinyl, special effect color vinyl, and custom vinyl etching” alike.
Aside from Metallica, Furnace says that it counts as clients “many” big-name artists, international music companies, labels, and “indie/punk acts.” While the transaction’s financial terms haven’t been revealed publicly, Metallica disclosed that the aforementioned Furnace founder and CEO Astor, along with longtime execs Ali Miller (COO) and Mark Reiter (VP of operations), will continue in their existing roles.
The three will likewise remain equity stakeholders and retain their board seats, and in a statement, Astor acknowledged that the sale will enable his business to capitalize upon growth opportunities moving forward.
“Building Furnace into the dedicated and experienced family of experts that it is today has been a huge effort, but immensely gratifying,” said the Art Monk Construction co-founder Astor. “Knowing our long-term future is secured while also being better able to take advantage of growth opportunities is really exciting for every member of the Furnace staff.”
And in comments of his own, Metallica’s James Hetfield added: “Furnace has been great to Metallica and more importantly to our fans. This deepened relationship between Metallica and Furnace ensures that fans of vinyl everywhere, particularly our Fifth Members [the fan club boasts north of 1.37 million members, its website shows], will have continued access to high quality records in the future.”
Earlier in 2023, Warner Music Group revealed that it was shifting more of its vinyl production to the States, after the format last year outsold CDs in the U.S. as well as the U.K. for the first time since 1987, according to RIAA and BPI sales data.