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Colton Pack quits Restless Road; Sony Music backs away from 'X Factor' U.S. acts

Restless Road in 2013. Pictured from left to right: Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Andrew Scholz.
Restless Road in 2013. Pictured from left to right: Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Andrew Scholz.
Fox

On Feb. 9, 2014, country act Restless Road and Colton Pack announced that he has quit the group to pursue a solo career. Restless Road came in fourth place on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2013. Restless Road was formed when Simon Cowell put together three teenage contestants — Pack, Andrew Scholz and Zach Beeken — who originally auditioned as solo singers but were rejected by the show as solo singers.

It was obvious that Cowell (who was Restless Road's "X Factor" mentor) had hoped that Restless Road would be a country version of One Direction (the boy band that Cowell created and mentored on "The X Factor" U.K. in 2010), but now Restless Road looks like it will become yet another reality-show contestant that will fade back into obscurity.

In a separate statement, Beeken and Scholz said they will continue as Restless Road but have not announced if they will replace Pack or if they will just remain a duo. (See the statements from Pack and Restless Road at the end of this article.)

[Feb. 12, 2014 update: Based on updates on Restless Road's Facebook page, Restless Road will remain a duo.]

Meanwhile, the cancellation of "The X Factor" U.S. (which was officially announced on Feb. 7, 2014) has led to Sony Music backing off from signing the non-winning contestants from the show's third and final season. As previously reported, Syco Music (the record company that Cowell co-owns with Sony Music) and Sony Music were looking to sign Season 3 contestants Restless Road, Jeff Gutt, Ellona Santiago and Alex & Sierra before Alex & Sierra were named "The X Factor" U.S. winners in 2013.

But sources say that "The X Factor" U.S. has been such a humiliating failure for Cowell that he has essentially lost interest in signing all the show's Season 3 contestants whom he had originally planned to sign. If the show had been renewed for a fourth season, the contestants he had chosen as his favorites probably would have been signed by now. Cowell had high hopes that Fox would renew "The X Factor" U.S. for a fourth season in 2014, and he even told the media that the show would be renewed in 2014. But in the end, Cowell was wrong, and so his plans to sign contestants from the show's third season have changed.

As of now, boyfriend/girlfriend duo Alex & Sierra are the only contestants from the show's third season who are signed to Sony Music, since they won the Sony Music contract as part of their "X Factor" grand prize. According to messages on Twitter and interviews they've given, Alex & Sierra are working on their debut album with several songwriters, including John Legend, James Valentine of Maroon 5, Sam Watters and Julian Bunetta. The album's songs, title and release date are to be announced, but Alex & Sierra have told the media that the album should be released before the end of 2014.

Given the dismal sales of other former "X Factor" U.S. contestants, don't expect Alex & Sierra to become a platinum-selling act in America. If Alex & Sierra's album goes gold, then it will be a minor miracle. The reality is that even though Alex & Sierra hit No. 1 on iTunes in the U.S. with cover versions of A Great Big World's "Say Something" and Sara Bareilles' "Gravity" when Alex & Sierra were contestants on "The X Factor" in 2013, the sales for Alex & Sierra's versions of those songs weren't enough for Alex & Sierra to make it onto Billboard's Hot 100 chart, the official singles chart of the U.S.

It's already been well-documented in this blog and elsewhere how "The X Factor" U.S. failed to find an international superstar during its three seasons on the air. Melanie Amaro (the winner of the show's first season in 2011) had flop sales for her singles. Amaro's debut album, "Truly," was repeatedly delayed and will probably never be released. Tate Stevens (the winner of the show's second season in 2012) released a self-titled debut album in April 2013, but that album bombed, and Stevens was quickly dropped from Sony.

Many other former "X Factor" U.S. contestants who were signed to Sony Music had flop sales for their music in America (such as Chris Rene, Josh Krajcik, Marcus Canty, Rachel Crow) or have not yet released any music with Sony (Carly Rose Sonenclar, Beatrice Miller). Teen rapper Astro from the show's first season was signed to Sony Music's Epic Records, which parted ways with Astro before he ever released an album with Epic.

Fifth Harmony (girl group) and Emblem3 (boy band) from the show's second season have gotten the most media attention and best touring opportunities out of all the "X Factor" U.S. contestants, but their music sales have been underwhelming. Despite debuting in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart in 2013 (where they have a short-lived stay in the chart's Top 10), Emblem3 and Fifth Harmony haven't even come close to going gold in America, as their Sony Music releases don't have much staying power on the charts. And the singles released from Emblem3 and Fifth Harmony have been bombing. Both groups can attract crowds at large nightclubs, but Fifth Harmony and Emblem3 are nowhere near the level of being able to headline and sell out arenas. Fifth Harmony and Emblem3 have performed at arenas only as opening acts for bigger-name artists (Selena Gomez for Emblem3, Demi Lovato for Fifth Harmony) or as part of festivals that feature bigger stars on the concert bill.

As for Restless Road, it's anyone's guess how long that act will last. Pack was consistently singled out by "The X Factor" judges as being the best singer in Restless Road and the one with the most charisma on stage. With Cowell losing interest in Restless Road, it's clear that Pack felt he was better off trying to make it in the music business as a solo artist.

And now that "The X Factor" U.S. has been cancelled, the contestants from this doomed show are probably like a bad memory to Cowell. He's going back to "The X Factor" U.K. judging panel, where he was originally a judge from 2004 to 2010. There's almost no chance that Cowell is going back to being a judge on "American Idol" (where he was a judge from 2002 to 2010), since he's being in a long-running feud with "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller.

Although many people say they think that Alex & Sierra will become big stars, that's what many people said about Amaro, Stevens, Rene and all the other former "X Factor" U.S. contestants who ended up having flop sales in America. The reality is that many of the people who say they are "fans" of these artists or voted for them on "The X Factor" don't actually want to buy these artists' music. Cowell knows this fact, which is one of the reasons why he's going back to being a judge on "The X Factor" U.K., which is the only "X Factor" show in the world that's been able to discover artists who end up having big hits in several countries.

Here are the statements from Pack and Restless Road about Pack's departure from the group:

Colton Pack statement

After much time in thought and prayer, I've come to a decision. At this point in my life, it is best for me to part ways with Restless Road. This was a very difficult decision to make. I feel as if I have done not only what is best for me, but for the guys as well. I love both Andrew and Zach. We've become not only friends but brothers. This was an incredible journey, and I look forward to see where Restless Road goes in the near future. Though I'm not going with them, I will be following them closely. I know big things are in store for them. I wish Zach and Andrew nothing but the best.

"Prior to X Factor I was a solo artist. In my heart of hearts I have found it difficult to stray from what I feel is my true calling, a solo artist. We all have a specific path in life, and this is the path I truly feel I must walk. I want all the Roadies to know that there is no reason other than this that brought me to my decision. I want to thank y'all soooo much for us supporting us and showing us your love and devotion. That is something I will never take for granted. I hope you will continue to support Restless Road and myelf in our careers. I will be working towards a solo EP in the near future. Y'all are the greatest fans.

I love my Roadies. ~ Colton

Restless Road statement

Part 1

Colton has decided to leave the group. We are going to support his decision. We don’t want you to worry too much. More information to come.

I know you might be confused or worried but Andrew and Zach will have a ustream tonight to answer what questions they can.

The decision was Colton’s. We didn’t have any arguments or a fall out. We still support each other.

Please know Restless Road is NOT over…we are still going to push forward and we have plans. More details in a ustream tonight coming soon. We will post link to our page.

Part 2

to recap the ustream

Hey guys we know you may be in a some shock right now after you heard colton decided to leave the group. We definitely understand how you are feeling and Andrew and I would like to talk to you guys and help give you an idea of what exactly went on and reassure you that Restless Road isn’t over and help give you an idea of what we are going to do now

First the three of us talked last week about a lot of things and Colton told us his heart wasn’t in the band. We did NOT have any arguments or falling out…this decision was his own personal choice, and we respect and support it.

As hard as it is we are family and we are going to be there for each other. And we hope all of our fans and supporters who follow us make the decision to continue to support all three of us. Even though Restless Road will be different without Colton it doesn’t mean that we all can’t make it something special. And we know Colton feels the same way… he doesn’t want anybody giving up on the band either.

We really wanted to do this ustream to let you guys know that we are going to GIVE OUR ALL into this group. We know how much work you guys put into for us and you’re the reason we are where we are. All the fan accounts and pictures and messasge you send us is why we are going to work to keep restless road alive. No matter what – its for you guys.

We are in Nashville now and are working on moving forward… We have a couple different things going on right now that are positive for the group… we don’t have enough information at this moment however to tell anything to you for sure…but definitely in the next couple days we will let you know exactly how the two of us are planning on continuing!

Like we said we know this is hard and we can understand how you might have lost some faith in us but we are here to tell you this is not the end… and there are still big things in store for us and with all of your continued support we achieve anything!