Zayn Malik I've Signed With RCA ... Thanks to Simon Cowell!

7/29/2015 2:08 PM PDT

Zayn Malik -- I've Signed With RCA ... Thanks to Simon Cowell!

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The Zayn Malik solo era is firing up ... he's officially signed on with RCA Records, with a little help from Simon Cowell

Our sources say Cowell was the go-between for Zayn and RCA.  He's been negotiating the deal for a couple of weeks.

It's interesting ... One Direction and Malik are on competing labels. The group is signed to Columbia and Syco.

We're told Cowell -- who created One Direction  -- felt RCA was the best place for Malik to succeed as a solo artist.

Malik left the band back in March.