UPDATE // JUNE 30: Columbia's newest signee, Harry Styles, reportedly signed a deal between the $75-80 million range for three albums. According to Hits Daily Double, the feat is largely due to Apple initially offering $25 million for one album, which drove up the other offers.
To break even, Styles has to aim to sell 5 million units worldwide, which does not include marketing costs or streaming income.
In other words, some of music's biggest corporations are confident Styles will be a massive seller.
EARLIER // JUNE 23:
Seems like every week there's a new unfounded report of Harry Styles going solo.
Whether this is the media trying to wish something into existence, or whether this is build-up to something more substantial, Billboard has once again decided to report, without naming any sources, that Harry Styles has signed a solo record deal with Columbia Records:
Finally, a long-awaited solo deal for the One Direction star has been signed, say sources. Harry Styles has signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, the same label behind his group One Direction, Billboard has learned. Deal terms are not yet known and there is no timeline for a solo album, say sources.
Not the strongest information to start an "exclusive" article with...and a stark contrast from when Zayn Malik - the first member of One Direction to go solo - signed to RCA Records. His official move was announced by RCA's social media accounts and he tweeted a photo of his winning smile, pen in hand as he signed his brand new contract. A quick search finds the likely original source for Billboard's article is another unsourced report from Hits Double Daily. Hmm.
Styles himself has taken almost full leave from all social media since it was announced he'd landed a small role in Christopher Nolan's 2017 war film Dunkirk. While his Twitter and Instagram are practical ghost towns right now, he's been spotted by fans in the French commune and has been photographed on set in war gear a couple more times since the first pics were released in May.
Styles has never verbally expressed any desire to go solo, despite continuous reports since roughly 2013.
UK trash tabloid The Sun reported back in May that a bidding war was in place between Universal Music and 1D's current UK label Syco Music. If Styles does indeed sign with Columbia Records, not much will change, as Columbia is already One Direction's US label.
Billboard goes on to mention songs registered with Harry's name in the writing credits:
The first hints of a Styles solo career came last year, when four songs performed and written by the star were registered with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
But fails to mention his name has since been removed from every song registered since late last year. Since early 2016, each member of One Direction has either registered songs with ASCAP or gotten back to work in recording studios, with Liam Payne even sharing a snippet of a rap song he wrote on his Instagram.
Considering Harry's debut film role will hit cinemas in July next year, Harry's promotional campaign for the film may start in late 2016 or early 2017. Realistically, is that enough time to craft an album? Perhaps, but if acting is the direction (groan) that Styles wishes to merge into, shouldn't Dunkirk take full priority? It certainly has for the past four months.
Still, not a word was uttered about Harry's role in Dunkirk prior to the official March announcement, so take this report with a grain of salt...but it probably wouldn't hurt to prepare for a Harry Styles solo album surprise drop, either.