Legendary heavy metal band Metallica has acquired a controlling stake in Furnace Record Pressing, a provider of vinyl records and related services, for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition builds on a long-standing relationship between Metallica and Furnace that has produced more than five million pieces of Metallica vinyl since 2014, according to a press release.
Furnace says the acquisition will allow Metallica to meet “the massive demand for Metallica vinyl” and “better serve the needs of any and all vinyl lovers in the Metallica family.”
Metallica was represented by its affiliated growth equity and content investing platform known as Black Squirrel Partners.
It also comes as vinyl records have staged a comeback in recent years.
In the US, Revenues from vinyl records grew 17.2% to $1.2 billion in 2022 – marking the format’s 16th consecutive year of growth. Vinyl accounted for 71% of physical format revenues.
Additionally, for the first time since 1987, vinyl albums outsold CDs in units (41 million vs 33 million).
The popularity of vinyl records have placed pressure on manufacturers to keep up with growing demand.
“The technology is almost unchanged from the last century and not fit for today’s market. It was built for hundreds of artists selling millions of records, but today we have millions of artists selling hundreds of records. Most of the engineers who truly understood vinyl are dead,” Steve Rhodes, Co-Founder and CEO of UK-based ‘vinyl-on-demand’ startup, elasticStage, told MBW in an interview in December.
Furnace, founded in 1996 by Eric Astor, produces records at its 70,000 square-foot facility in Alexandria, Virginia. It operates 12 Pheenix Alpha presses and two Finebilt presses, allowing it to produce standard and heavyweight pressings, color vinyl, special effect color vinyl, and custom vinyl etching.
The company also manages other services related to the records’ creation and packaging.
Furnace produced the definitive deluxe box set editions of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets, …And Justice For All, Metallica (a/k/a The Black Album) and S&M2.
“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.”
James Hetfield, Metallica
Following Metallica’s acquisition, Furnace founder and CEO Eric Astor, Chief Operating Officer Ali Miller and Vice President for Operations Mark Reiter will remain in their respective roles. Each of them will also remain an equity owner of the company and a member of its 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” says Astor.
“We have found ideal partners in Metallica. They want us to continue our customer driven focus. To that end we look forward to providing even greater capacity and service to each of our customers in the future.”
Ali Miller, Furnace Record Pressing
“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.”
Miller added: “We have found ideal partners in Metallica. They want us to continue our customer driven focus. To that end we look forward to providing even greater capacity and service to each of our customers in the future.”
Metallica co-founder and drummer Lars Ulrich, said: “We couldn’t be more happy to take our partnership with Furnace – and Eric, Ali and Mark specifically – to the next level. Their indie spirit, the passion they have for their craft… culturally we’re kindred souls.”
“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,” added James Hetfield, the band’s co-founder, vocalist and guitarist.
Music Business Worldwide