Record Labels and the Success of Techno: Planet E

Alex Calhoun —  December 31, 2013 — 1 Comment

planeteTechno in Detroit seems to ebb and flow every so many years. There will be a period of time when Detroit artists and labels are kicking out amazing releases at an almost relentless pace, followed by a period of contraction, when the releases seem to come to a crawl, and you wonder if some of the labels are even active. This was most notable following the “first wave” of techno in the 1980’s. Entering the 1990’s and looking for a way to keep his creative momentum going, Carl Craig started Planet E records, and led Detroit labels and Techno into another era.

Planet E was initially started in 1991 by Carl Craig to avoid having his musical creativity in the hands of major labels. Around this time, there was also a renewed interest in Techno, as well as a new roster of producers and DJs looking to get the material released. What made Planet E stand out then, as well as today, was that the label was willing to release music that pushed boundaries and experimented with the sounds of electronic music. Many of the earliest releases were Carl Craig’s own under different monikers (69, Paperclip People, Piece), as well as many now well-known artists that were up and coming including Moodymann, Recloose, and Alton Miller.


Planet E has shown no signs of slowing down since seeing initial success in the 90s. In 2001, Planet E celebrated its 10 year anniversary with a proper birthday party coinciding with the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Throughout the 2000s, Planet E continued to release forward thinking Techno by artists like Ibex, Mike “Agent X” Clark, Martin Buttrich, Kenny Larkin, and Terrence Parker. In 2011, Planet E celebrated 20 years with a new sub-label, TWPENTY which put out a ton of releases to celebrate the birthday of this Techno mainstay.

Planet E still lives because of the labels drive to release music that thinks outside of the box, and continues to innovate, with releases that can reach into the far corners of Techno, House, Funk, Ambient, and Future Jazz. If Carl Craig keeps the drive going, rest assured you will see a Planet E 30 year anniversary in Detroit.

Alex Calhoun


Alex Calhoun is a writer, vinyl collector, and lover of all things odd and electronic. He currently lives in the Detroit Metro area.
December 2013
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