50WEAPONS, the iconic techno label from Berlin known to be a home to major releases from the likes of Cosmin TRG, Modeselektor, Falty DL, Benjamin Damage, Marcel Dettmann, Phon.o, announced without explanation that it’s dead, via a video posted to Facebook (and now, YouTube). There’s even, ominously, a gravestone.

The “50” in 50WEAPONS is 50 releases. And they weren’t kidding.

#rip50weapons [Facebook post]

It’s not a great time to be a label. Vinyl purchases are up, but production is backlogged and still requires capital. Download outlets are seeing major consolidation, with DJ-facing giant Beatport swallowed up into EDM festival ticket-pushing conglomerate SFX Entertainment. And then there’s streaming – ’nuff said.

The reason for the death at this moment isn’t clear. The label planned only 50 releases, and promised to stop afterwards:

“We still want to keep the concept of only having 50 releases, and then stop the label. Let’s see if we can manage to do so. “

Here, it’s tough to count. They had 39 releases on 12″, but more than 50 by other counts – so maybe they split the difference. It does seem that they are closing shop. Benjamin Damage on Twitter suggests we’ll see more, after death:

Some life is likely to continue. 50WEAPONS already pledged support for Native Instruments’ Stems format, which means 4-track stems for DJs should be available from the back catalog. And you can expect to find the artists elsewhere, as well. Modeselektor, who launched the project, are safely at home on Berlin’s Monkeytown.


By way of memorial, Resident Advisor had a great profile of the label, complete with representative mix:

Label of the month: 50 Weapons

This post from a commenter summed up the consensus:


And, if this is all part of their plan to expire as engineered, well, this is also obligatory:

UPDATED – Here’s the last record.

A lot of techno these days sounds as though people organized their sample sets and Ableton Live templates so well, that nothing will sound surprising. So — it’s nice to hear that 50WEAPONS is going out on a bang. From the music snippet so far, it combines some pounding rhythm with out-of-left-field trance-y synths in a delightfully unexpected combination.

And it sounds as though that’s just the beginning.

Benjamin Damage, who debuted the label alongside Modeselektor, here promises a nice mix of everything: “Obsidian is a collection of fragmented memories from all the music I’ve ever liked, distorted and restructured into a full-length techno record. It’s a purely personal project and an end of an era with 50 Weapons.”

Purely personal sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

Have a listen on Resident Advisor.