The U.K. group, whose song "Wellerman" kicked off the shanty trend on TikTok, was the subject of a transatlantic bidding war.
U.K. folk group The Longest Johns, whose song “Wellerman” kicked off the TikTok sea shanty trend after it was covered by Scottish singer Nathan Evans on the platform, have signed global recording and touring deals with Universal Music’s Decca Records and UTA, respectively.
The recording agreement, a partnership between Decca in the U.K. and Verve Records in the U.S., covers multiple albums, Billboard has confirmed. Decca/Verve and UTA beat out multiple major labels and live agents to sign the group, who became the subject of a transatlantic bidding war.
The Longest Johns’ version of “Wellerman” – a New Zealand whaler’s song written in the 19th century – was recorded in 2018 but didn’t catch on until Evans’ rendition of the track and other traditional sea shanties caught fire on TikTok, spawning EDM remixes, skits and more. The Longest Johns iteration has since been streamed over 14 million times and also hit the top 40 in the U.K. In the U.S., the group’s album Between Wind and Water, which features "Wellerman," currently sits at No. 13 on Billboard's Americana/Folk Albums chart.