In a move that signals the unexpected strength of the vinyl market, Metallica has acquired a majority interest in one of the largest vinyl pressing companies in the U.S. — Furnace Record Pressing, a leading provider of high-quality vinyl records and related services.
The acquisition formalizes a long-standing relationship between the band and the company, which has produced more than five million pieces of Metallica vinyl since 2014. The projects include the deluxe boxed-set editions of Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All,” “Ride the Lightning,” “Master of Puppets,” “…And Justice for All,” “S&M2” and self-titled albums.
The move is also a savvy one: As many artists and labels can attest, there are very few quality pressing plants in the world and projects can become backed up for months. Vinyl pressings are often not available for weeks or even months after an album’s initial release.
Yet even with that business handicap, vinyl sales have grown for 16 consecutive years: In 2022, revenues were up 17% to $1.2 billion, according to the RIAA, and accounted for 71% of physical format revenues. For the first time since 1987, vinyl albums outsold CDs in units (41 million vs 33 million).
Founded by Eric Astor in 1996, Furnace operates a 70,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility in Alexandria, Virginia, with 12 Pheenix Alpha presses and two Finebilt presses. It offers standard and heavyweight pressings, color vinyl, special effect color vinyl, and custom vinyl etching, and also oversees other services related to the creation and packaging of records.
In addition to Metallica, Furnace counts many major artists, global music companies, record labels and indie/punk acts as clients. Eric Astor (Founder and CEO), Ali Miller (COO) and Mark Reiter (VP – Operations, a longtime executive at Q-Prime, which has managed Metallica since 1984) will continue in their respective roles leading Furnace. Each remains an equity owner of the company and each will be a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
“Building Furnace into the dedicated and experienced family of experts that it is today has been a huge effort, but immensely gratifying” said 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.”
“We couldn’t be more happy to take our partnership with Furnace — and Eric, Ali and Mark specifically — to the next level,” said Lars Ulrich, co-founder of Metallica. “Their indie spirit, the passion they have for their craft… culturally we’re kindred souls.” James Hetfield, co-founder of Metallica, 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, will have continued access to high quality records in the future.”
Metallica was represented by its affiliated growth equity and content investing platform known as Black Squirrel Partners (“Black Squirrel”), with Kirkland & Ellis acting as counsel and Citrin Cooperman assisting with financial due diligence and tax advisory. Dunlap, Bennett & Ludwig acted as counsel to Furnace.