Country singer Tate Stevens won on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2012, but he isn't the only contestant from the show who's getting a record deal with Sony Music. Sources say that Carly Rose Sonenclar (second place), Fifth Harmony (third place) and Emblem3 (fourth place) are also getting deals with Sony Music. The announcements will officially be made in early 2013.
Stevens, Sonenclar, Fifth Harmony and Emblem3 will be signed to Syco Music, the record company co-owned by Simon Cowell and Sony Music. Syco will then partner with a larger Sony Music label (Epic Records or Columbia Records) to market and promote the "X Factor" alumni's music.
Sonenclar, 13, was already an experienced entertainer before she auditioned for "The X Factor." She had starring roles in Broadway shows and traveling theater production, such as "Les Misérables," "Wonderland" and "Little House on the Prairie: The Musical." She was a featured actress on the TV series "Electric Company" and has had small roles in several movies, including "The Nanny Diaries" and "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2."
Emblem3 is a male trio, two of whom are brothers: 19-year-old Wesley Stromberg,16-year-old Keaton Stromberg and 20-year-old Drew Chadwick.
Fifth Harmony is a girl group whose members originally auditioned as solo singers: 19-year-old Ally Brooke, 15-year-old Camila Cabello, 16-year-old Normani Hamilton, 15-year-old Dinah-Jane Hansen and 16-year-old Lauren Jauregui.
An insider says, "Simon is determined to prove that he can find the next big girl group in America. He missed out on a chance to sign the Spice Girls and he's regretted it ever since. Little Mix [2011 winner of 'The X Factor' U.K.] might not have crossover success in America, so he's hoping Fifth Harmony can fill what he likes to call 'the gap in the market' for a superstar all-female pop group.
"Emblem3 has always been Simon's biggest priority out of this year's contestants. He thinks Emblem3 can be as big as Hanson was in the late '90s. And with Carly Rose, Cowell wants to use a marketing strategy that was similarly used for ["America's Got Talent" 2010 finalist] Jackie Evancho, who's been very successful for Syco. Carly's first album will be more pop than Jackie's music, which is is more operatic."
And there just might be some Sony Music in-fighting for Emblem3.
"Epic and Columbia both want Emblem3," reveals the insider. "L.A. Reid [chairman/CEO of Epic Records] is hot to sign Emblem3, but don't count out [Columbia Records], because Columbia has One Direction. Syco has an interesting dilemma on which label to choose."
It's an interesting dilemma indeed. On the one hand, Epic so far has not had success getting big hits in the U.S. for any of the "X Factor" U.S. artists who are signed to Epic: Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene, Marcus Canty and Astro have yet to have big hit onto Billboard's Hot 100 chart. Canty is the only one so far who's had a song on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, but the song was a flop: His first single, "Won't Make a Fool Out of You" (released in 2012), peaked at No. 98 on the chart. On the plus side, Epic has been successful in helping make "X Factor" U.K. 2010 finalist Cher Lloyd a breakthrough in America, but can Epic make her more than a one-hit wonder in America?
As for Columbia Records, One Direction is an obvious success story, since the group has now become the biggest seller worldwide of any act to emerge from "The X Factor." Under Columbia's guidance, One Direction also became the first British group to have its first two albums debut at No. 1 in the United States. But does Emblem3 want to go with Columbia, where Emblem3 will be overshadowed by One Direction? Or will Emblem3 go with Columbia precisely because the record label has a proven track record in making an "X Factor" music group a hit?
We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, a record deal with a major label does not always guarantee success. It remains to be seen if any of the contestants from "The X Factor" U.S.'s second season will have any big hits in America. So far, the contestants from the show's first season (which got higher ratings than the second season) have yet to have a big breakthrough hit in the United States.
January 9, 2013 update: Sony Music has announced its record deal with Emblem3. Click here for more details.
January 17, 2013 update: Sony Music has announced its record deal with Fifth Harmony. Click here with more details.