They grew up only 3 miles apart in Northern California — though Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels didn’t know each other until well after each had embarked on their musical career in Nashville. Over the past few years, the duo — now Haley & Michaels — have quietly gone about building their music career inch by inch and piece by piece.
Now, in 2014, things aren’t nearly as quiet as before. “Just Another Love Song,” their previous single, climbed to the top of the CMT Pure playlist and entered into the top 10 on the GAC Countdown. They are gearing up for the Oct. 21 release of both their self-titled debut EP, as well as their new single, “One More Night to Break,” which was co-written with the Warren Brothers. The track will premiere on SiriusXM’s the Highway the same day.
“We’re in disbelief about everything going right now,” Michaels told Billboard. “We have been pinching ourselves.”
Having John Marks at SiriusXM come aboard — along with the radio stations already playing the release — has been an invaluable tool, Haley said.
“There are some definite game-changers that have taken place — SiriusXM adding our song on the Highway has been huge. You can see where the power of that has changed everything. It’s connected us to so many fans that we wouldn’t have known before. That, to me — and radio play in general — including KKGO/Los Angeles and KRTY/San Jose, has been huge. Once radio starts to play a song, you really begin to pick up a lot more interaction with fans. I didn’t think that would happen so quickly.”
From writing and recording the song to promoting it, Haley & Michaels have done everything on their own — which is quickly becoming a business model in the industry that works. Michaels says they are just trying to soak everything in along the way.
“We are having an absolute blast and have so many wonderful memories. I think that with doing it in increments, we have a strong foundation. This isn’t a short-term thing for us, it’s our life. We’ve never really thought about the option of it not working out. It feels like everything from our fan base to our creative team to co-writers, we have a solid foundation that sets us up well for the future. It’s so rewarding when you do it yourself, and you’re there for every step of the way.”
One of those big moments has been getting used to their growing crowds knowing the lyrics to their songs — even singing the words of “Just Another Love Song” back to them. Haley gets emotional talking about that, saying, “The first time that ever happened, I stopped singing because I was so shocked. I had no idea that would happen at that point. People knew the verses and the lyrics. It was such a powerful moment and helped me to feel so connected to people in general. That was definitely the most amazing thing for me, so far.”
After seeing their stage show, industry powerhouse the William Morris Agency came on board to represent them, something that makes Haley beam even more. “That’s been a dream of ours since the beginning. We love live shows and performing. That’s always been a huge focus. To be with such a wonderful agency who can take it to the next level — which we can’t do on our own — is a huge opportunity.”
Michaels feels that the new EP will be a perfect showcase to all sides of their talent. “Just Another Love Song” has been a success for us, but at the same time, it’s not all that we do,” he said. “It’s just one song. We love to show people the full spectrum of what we do — the depth of our songwriting, We’ve put a lot of time on this EP, and we hope that the fans will better understand what we do.”
Over the past month, Haley & Michaels have opened for Parmalee and also last month played a date with Martina McBride in Saratoga, Calif. To say that it was a night to remember for Haley would be an understatement.
“She’s such a legend,” Haley said. “I never thought I would be able to say that we were playing on the same stage on the same night, That’s just the coolest thing. I was in awe. I think she has one of the greatest voices on the planet. Every female singer looks up to her. She’s so amazing.”