Alexandria, VA (March 14, 2023)—In a move that underscores the continued economic impact of vinyl’s return, thrash metal giants Metallica have acquired a majority interest in Alexandria, VA-based Furnace Record Pressing, which manufactures vinyl records and offers related services.
Founded by Eric Astor in 1996, Furnace has a 70,000-square-foot facility housing a dozen Pheenix Alpha presses and two Finebilt presses—capacity that allows it to produce an estimated 25,000 records a day. The band and pressing plant have had a working relationship going back nearly a decade, as the company has manufactured more than five million Metallica records since 2014; going forward, Furnace will continue to also serve other labels and artists as well.
Given currently strained vinyl manufacturing capacities across the industry, the purchase is likely an unusual strategic move, but a music act owning its own vinyl pressing plant isn’t unheard of—one only has to point to Jack White’s well-known Third Man Records company, which has evolved its Detroit pressing facility into something of a rock ‘n’ roll tourism destination. Metallica, however, may well have other reasons for moving deeper into the vinyl world. The band famously fought filesharing during the Napster era—a move that, while well-justified, hurt the band’s reputation in some parts of its fanbase—and embracing the production of physical media would be in line with that ethos.
The Furnace purchase may also be related to the recent hiatus of the Metallica Vinyl Club mail-order subscription service. After dropping eight releases in two years, the service went on indefinite hiatus in December, 2022 with a message to members that stated “Since you’re all collectors, you know that current vinyl demand is exceeding production capabilities. Across the music world, all artists are dealing with delays…. we’re not going to offer a renewal for the next Vinyl Club subscription at this time. We do not yet have a target date for the next subscription year.” Metallica purchasing its own vinyl pressing plant would seemingly pave the way for the subscription plan’s return.
The group has embraced vinyl’s resurgence over the last few years in other ways as well, from collaborating with Germany’s Pro-Ject Audio Systems on a $1,600, limited-edition Metallica turntable, to issuing deluxe box set editions of the band’s Kill ’Em All, Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets, …And Justice For All, Metallica (The Black Album) and S&M2, all of which were pressed at Furnace.
Astor (Founder, CEO), Ali Miller (COO) and Mark Reiter (VP, Operations) will continue their current roles at Furnace, be on the company’s board of directors and remain as equity owners of the company. In a statement, Astor noted, “Building Furnace into the dedicated and experienced family of experts that it is today has been a huge effort, but immensely gratifying. 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.”
COO Ali 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.”