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AFTER 1D'S SWAN SONG, ANYTHING GOES

One Direction’s fifth album, Made in the A.M. (SYCO/Columbia, 11/13), will be the last under their current deal with Simon Cowell’s label, after which the four remaining members are expected to launch solo careers.

1D made history as the first group to ever have their first four albums debut at #1 in the U.S., and they have an excellent shot to make it five-for-five with Made in the A.M., for which Justin Bieber’s comeback album Purpose stands as the primary competition, barring some surprise superstar release on that date. The 1D album was originally scheduled for 11/20, but was moved up a week when Adele’s team selected that date for her eagerly awaited third album.

As a measure of how massive 1D has been since the release of debut album Up All Night in March 2012, each of their four albums has sold north of 5m worldwide, and 9m albums plus TEA in the States. The group also reached a milestone with Spotify, as they hit 1 billion total streams, joining an elite handful of superstars to accomplish this feat. Just as significantly, if not more so, 1D has put over 7.5m asses in seats, and the 2014-15 world tour grossed a reported $290m, with three sellouts of the 90k-capacity Rose Bowl. Given that track record, imagine how huge a 1D reunion tour would be.

Interestingly, each 1D album has moved fewer units than the preceding one. Will fan sentiment over the group’s possible demise inspire a reversal of this pattern with Made in the A.M.?

Lest we forget, One Direction was assembled by Cowell from individual X Factor contestants in what turned out to be a brilliant move, while the SYCO team of Cowell and Sonny Takhar, group manager Richard Griffiths and Rob Stringer’s Columbia crew masterfully guided the group to worldwide superstardom, providing the members with a potent launching platform for their solo endeavors.

The first group member to test the waters will be Zayn Malik, who left 1D following the group’s fourth album and quickly signed with manager Sarah Stennett and RCA.

Where do the Azoffs, Griffiths, Stringer, Cowell and Takhar fit into the four remaining group members’ plans? Harry Styles is believed by many to have the best shot at a superstar solo career, as whispers of an impending Azoff management play with Styles grow louder. Most expect Styles to sign a solo deal with Columbia or one of the UMG labels. Insiders say that an album could be released as early as next year at this time.

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