Zayn Malik left his One Direction bandmates short a member because he said he wanted to live a "normal" life, though his plans for a future solo career surfaced shortly thereafter. Now it looks like the rights to Malik’s future solo efforts have been secured by Simon Cowell.
Cowell is the music mastermind behind One Direction, and it looks like he isn’t quite ready to let Malik drift off to competing labels.
In fact, according to reports, Cowell only let Malik out of his One Direction contract with Syco Records on the condition that Syco would be allowed to release the 22-year-old’s future albums.
Aside from earning all of the money imaginable, Cowell will also be able to time the release of Malik’s future projects and One Direction’s future albums to avoid any possible conflict.
While Cowell seems to be confident in Malik’s musical future, though not everyone is quite so confident. Actor and New Kids on the Block veteran Donnie Wahlberg sat down with Howard Stern on Stern’s Sirius XM radio show, saying that Malik’s success as a solo artist all depends on what kind of performer he turns out to be.
"It depends on what guy you are," Wahlberg explained. "It's hard to say. Look at Justin Timberlake. You never know. But he may be the Lance Bass of the group and probably should stay. It just depends who you are. If you know who you are in the pecking order, you can make those choices."
Former Jonas Brothers member Nick Jonas also opened up about Malik’s departure, saying that he sympathized with the singer’s decision.
"It's a lot of pressure," Nick shared. "I think that my situation was really unique, I had family with me."
Former Beatle Ringo Starr, the ladies of Fifth Harmony, and the pop-punk boy band 5 Seconds of Summer have also weighed in on the situation, and have all spoken with ET about how difficult life in the spotlight can really be.
To Malik's credit, he’s been open about his friendship with his former bandmates even after quitting, and wishes them the best of luck.
"I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall," Malik said in a statement. "I know they will continue to be the best band in the world."
Check out the video below for more on Malik’s shocking departure, which left some 1D fans grieving.