Metallica have bought their own factory to manufacture vinyl records, as annual vinyl unit sales outstrip CDs for the first time since 1987 in the US.
The thrash metal band are the new owners of Furnace Record Pressing, a Virginia pressing plant that has made discs for Metallica for 15 years, as Billboard reports. The company’s founder and chief executive Eric Astor said: “Knowing our long-term future is secured while also being better able to take advantage of growth opportunities is really exciting.”
Metallica sell more vinyl than most acts: without releasing a new album, they sold 387,000 copies of albums from their catalogue in the format in 2022, making them the sixth highest selling on vinyl act in the US that year. Their first album since 2016’s Hardwired … to Self-Destruct is released in April, entitled 72 Seasons, and Furnace has been pressing vinyl copies of it since January.
The band’s decision comes in the wake of manufacturing bottlenecks for the industry in recent years as the once almost dormant vinyl format has continued its resurgence.
A new year-end report by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for 2022 has found that vinyl revenue in the US grew to $1.2bn, a 17% annual rise. For the first time since 1987, more vinyl records were sold than CDs: 41m versus 33m. CD revenue fell 18%, to $483m.
It’s the 16th year of consecutive revenue growth for vinyl in the US, but at 17%, the rate of that growth is slowing. The RIAA reported that the market grew nearly 29% in 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic impacting retail – that year, revenue from vinyl overtook CDs for the first time since 1986. In 2021, the vinyl market jumped by another 61%.
Vinyl revenue is driven in part by targeting fans who are willing to pay premium prices for the much-coveted format, even if they don’t actually play the albums: another US industry body, Luminate, found that in 2022 only 50% of vinyl buyers own a record player. Luminate also found vinyl sales to be relatively flat during 2022, boosted by spikes during two Record Store Day events, the release of Taylor Swift’s Midnights, and the Christmas gifting period.
The overall US revenue from physical music in 2022 is $1.7bn, a figure dwarfed by the revenue generated by streaming, digital radio, social media and other digital sources: $13.3bn, accounting for 84% of all revenue, with $10.2bn of that amount from paid subscriptions to streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
The paid downloads market continues to evaporate. Once accounting for 43% of recorded music revenue, in 2012, it now accounts for just 3%.
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