The duo met at Belmont University in 2008 through a campus worship group, and following graduation, decided to give themselves two years to succeed as a country duo. They moved in with one another and began several odd jobs to pay bills, while playing clubs on the weekends. While independent, they recorded and digitally distributed their first EP, Anything Like Me (2010). They were discovered by Nickelback Producer Joey Moi at a county fair, and the three began entering the studio together. Unlike typical country music sessions, the group spent days polishing songs, which were collected on the duo's second EP, It'z Just What We Do (2012). In terms of production, the band modeled their sound on bands such as Nickelback, Shinedown, and Three Days Grace, while Moi aimed for each song to resemble hair metal group Def Leppard in structure. Major labels became interested when the song "Cruise" first aired on satellite radio on "The Highway" channel and began selling well on iTunes, leading to a deal with Republic Nashville and Big Machine Label Group.
Florida Georgia Line's first EP, released on December 14, 2010, is a six-song EP produced with Wesley Walker. All of the songs were written by either Hubbard or Hubbard and Kelley. The EP consists of the songs "You're Country", "Now That She's Gone", "Man I Am Today", "Never Let Her Go" (co-written with "Cruise" co-writer Chase Rice), "Black Tears", and "Backwoods Beauty Queen". The song "Black Tears" was also on Jason Aldean's 2012 album Night Train.
The duo's first studio album, Here's to the Good Times, was an 11-song album produced by Joey Moi on Republic Nashville and released on December 4, 2012. The pair's first full-length, Here's to the Good Times, was the sixth-best-selling album of 2013 (topping Drake and Katy Perry, among others). "Cruise", the first single, reached number one on the Country Airplay chart dated December 15, 2012. A remix of "Cruise" featuring Nelly later hit number four on the US Billboard Hot 100. Florida Georgia Line's signature hit, "Cruise", holds one major record to date: the best-selling country digital song of all time, with sales surpassing 10 million. The song spent a record 24 weeks at number one on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, which was the longest reign in the history of the chart until July 2017 when it was surpassed by Sam Hunt's "Body Like a Back Road".
On December 16, 2013, Kelley married his girlfriend of seven months, Brittney Marie Cole. In February 2014, Hubbard sustained a back injury in a dirt bike accident. On July 1, 2015, Tyler Hubbard married his longtime girlfriend Hayley Stommel. In 2014, Kelley appeared on Animal Planet's Treehouse Masters.
The duo revealed on August 15, 2014, that their second studio album would be titled Anything Goes with a release date of October 14, 2014. The album's first single, "Dirt", was released to country radio and digital sales outlets on July 8, 2014 and became the sixth consecutive single by Florida Georgia Line to make the top five on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. "Sun Daze" was released to digital sales outlets on September 16, 2014. A week later, the album's title track, "Anything Goes", was released on September 22, 2014. Florida Georgia Line also appeared on the Hot Tours recap. "Confession" released to country radio on November 3, 2015 and reached number one on the Country Airplay chart in April 2016.
In July 2016, Florida Georgia Line came under fire when they banned law enforcement from being backstage before, during and after their concerts in Wisconsin and Iowa. Due to the recent police shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights; many outraged fans claimed the band was anti-police after their treatment towards law enforcement. The band later asked for a police escort leaving their concert, but had their request denied by various agencies due to their comments. It was later reported that prior to the concert, the band requested not to have law enforcement personnel backstage. Their request was denied by the music festival management team because of security concerns. In the aftermath of the incident, Brian Kelley called Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth and apologized, calling it a misunderstanding. The duo issued a statement on Twitter that said, "we want you to know that we have nothing but love and respect for the police. We are bummed anyone ever got a different impression."