“Hope everyone is doing ok! Just wanted to let you know that Syco Music and I have agreed to part ways,” he wrote. “I’m really excited for the future and to be back in the studio writing the next album.” The post was retweeted nearly 150,000 times within four hours.
The news comes some 15 months after signing with Arista, a subsidiary of Sony Music, via Syco. As Variety wrote in Feb. 2019: Arista Records, founded by Clive Davis in 1974, was relaunched in 2018 as part of Sony’s joint venture with former Island Records chief David Massey, who is CEO of the label as well as his own Work of Art publishing and management operation. Considering Massey’s track record with young artists, particularly former teen stars — he’s enjoyed success over the years with Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers as a group and as solo acts — he may have been considered a good fit for Tomlinson.
Arista was actually the third label in the Sony system where Tomlinson has landed: While he was initially assigned to RCA, Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone heard Tomlinson’s music — in particular the song “Back To You” featuring Bebe Rexha — she campaigned for the project and succeeded in landing it at her label. However, the song only reached No. 40 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100, although it was a Top 10 hit in his native U.K.
His latest album, “Walls,” was released this year. (Read Variety‘s review here.)
Tomlinson’s career took off after auditioning for a second time on the British television show, “The X Factor.” He had auditioned as a solo artist, but in 2010 was put together with Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, and Niall Horan to form One Direction. The group placed third in the competition, but hit it big with their debut in 2011, and the smash single “What Makes You Beautiful.” The group went on hiatus in 2016, and Tomlinson hit the ground running with the release of “Just Hold On,” a collaboration with Steve Akoi. The single debuted at No. 2 on the UK singles chart and was a dance hit.
With the coronavirus pandemic still spreading throughout the globe, Tomlinson added: “Stay safe and see you soon.”