Grammy-winning rock band Metallica bought their own vinyl pressing plant as sales of the previously stagnant format took CD sales by storm for the first time in 35 years.
The veteran metalheads, led by iconic frontman James Hetfield, have completed the purchase of Virginia-based company Furnace Record Pressing; a factory that has been making Metallica records for 15 years. The company’s founder and chief executive, Eric Astor, said this week that the deal will secure Furnace’s long-term future, while also putting it in a position of “Take advantage of growth opportunities.
The move will take the group’s relationship with the factory “move to the next level” explains the group’s co-founder, Lars Ulrich. Hetfield added that the deal with Furnace would ensure that fans “will have continued access to high-quality recordings in the future.”
Since the band’s formation in 1981, Metallica has grown to position itself as an industry leader in vinyl unit sales. Last year, the band sold more than 387,000 records in the US – a figure that puts the band sixth in vinyl sales, although Metallica hasn’t released new material since 2016. The latest record of the group, “72 Seasons”, is due out next month.
The purchase should also immunize Metallica against the bottlenecks affecting the vinyl pressing industry, which have become apparent since the resurgence of the format in recent years, during the 16th consecutive year of vinyl growth in the United States. .
A recent report from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) stated that the vinyl industry in the United States grew by 17% in 2022, with sales exceeding $1.2 billion. During the same period, the vinyl sold from 41 million copies to 33 million copies. CD revenues, meanwhile, were down 18% to $483 million.
Overall collective revenue from physical music sales, however, remains dwarfed by that of streaming platforms, which boasts aggregate sales of $13.3 billion in the United States across all digital sources.
Metallica has attempted to position itself at the forefront of music distribution in the past. In 2000, the band filed a lawsuit against the peer-to-peer file-sharing site Napster to ban the free distribution of their music. The subsequent court ruling in favor of the group is seen as a key factor in the growth of paid digital streaming services, commonplace today.
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