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It's official: Harry Styles is headed in a new direction.
E! News has confirmed that the One Direction singer has signed a solo recording contract with Columbia Records, the same label behind his group. The news was first reported by Billboard Thursday. Terms of the deal are unknown and there is no timeline for the album, sources said. Styles is the second 1D singer to go solo, following Zayn Malik, who quit the band in 2015.
Styles' new direction shouldn't come as a surprise to fans. Last year, four of his solo songs were registered with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. And in March, the 22-year-old joined Full Stop Management, headed by former CAA executive Jeffrey Azoff. At the time, One Direction's mentor, Simon Cowell, told Billboard he was unsure if the band would continue after the release of their 2015 album Made in the A.M. "I don't know if it's a hiatus or a breakup, to be honest. In a weird way, I don't want to know," he said. "I don't think they've had enough time to experience what it's like not being in the group to really answer that."
"Whenever I was with them, we talked about [going on a break], and I couldn't argue with them," Cowell said of band members Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Styles and Louis Tomlinson. "They had achieved so much in a short period of time, and I didn't want them to get jaded. As I've gotten older, I've learned to trust people more, particularly artists. They'll decide when they want to come back together." Regarding Styles' solo career, he said, "He'll work out what kind of record he wants to make because he's got great taste—which is always a help. All the writers and producers want to work with him, understandably, but he probably won't rush into it."
Indeed. Styles is filming Christopher Nolan's World War II drama, Dunkirk. As a source told E! News last year, "Harry has told his friends that the wants to get into acting." His transition into acting was also meant to complement his career as a solo artist. "He considers himself to be on a different path to the other boys," the source explained. "He certainly has hopes of doing solo stuff, branching out on his own, and so this might be the natural juncture in which to do that."