Zayn Malik announced late Wednesday that he signed a deal with record company RCA Records and left pop band One Direction to make "real" music. According to a report by TMZ, television producer Simon Cowell was the link between RCA and Malik, and helped strike the partnership.

Following the latest deal, One Direction -- which has signed up with Columbia and Syco record labels -- and the solo singer are now on competing labels. Cowell created One Direction but felt that RCA was the best way forward for Malik to make a mark as a solo artist, TMZ reported. The move may mean that Malik would be making music, which is more adult and less pop, the Guardian reported.

The 22-year-old's latest move comes after fans of One Direction were heartbroken at his exit from the group in March and blamed his girlfriend Perrie Edwards for the decision. The singer had earlier said that he was leaving One Direction because he wanted to be “a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.”

One Direction took offense at Malik’s latest deal, according to Us Weekly. However, Malik’s fans supported his move. The singer also retweeted a post on Twitter after the announcement. “You are stupid. Real music meaning real to him. Real because he has written and recorded it solely to what he likes.Real to himself like lol,” the post reads. 

Malik is working with R&B producer Malay, who has partnered with singers like Frank Ocean and John Legend. Earlier this year, he also worked with British dance pop producer Naughty Boy, but the partnership soon fell apart after he accused the producer of leaking their collaboration. Malik tweeted, “@NaughtyBoyMusic you fat joke stop pretending we're friends no one knows you.”

Malik has also signed with brand management company Turn First, which has Australian singer Iggy Azalea under its ambit, and will be guided by Sarah Stennett.

RCA Records’ lineup of stars includes Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera, Hilary Duff, Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Kesha and Miley Cyrus.