The woes of the music industry did not escape Toni Braxton.
The award-winning singer unleashed her self-titled debut album on July 13, 1993. The body of work, released by LaFace Records and Arista Records, climbed to the top spot on the Billboard 200. Within its first four months of release, the album of the then 26-year-old sold 1.7 million copies, according to The New York Times.
Braxton, engulfed by the fame, was still taking in all her newfound success.
“I don’t know how I feel. I’ve always dreamed of it happening, always deep down inside knew it would happen, but I never knew when,” she told The New York Times.
Today “Toni Braxton,” the album, is a classic that has gone on to sell over 8 million records and is certified multiplatinum, according to the Recording Academy. Singles from the 12-track album include “I Belong To You,” “Breathe Again” and “Another Sad Love Song,” which earned Braxton her first Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
ABC reports the album generated $170 million in global sales. However, the financial success didn’t translate directly to Braxton, who reportedly earned a $1,972 royalty check from her first recording contract. Per the outlet, music artists in the industry are required to cover costs such as travel, studio time, clothes, and music videos — all expenses that the record label initially pays for.
“What happens is they give you advancement on the next record and then the next record,” Braxton told ABC. “So you kind of stay in debt, in a sense.”
Braxton says this, along with her excessive spending habits on home decor and flatware, contributed to her filing for bankruptcy in 1998.
“I love dishes and house things, so I kind of lost it a little bit on the houseware,” Braxton shared.
After releasing several albums under a new record deal, Braxton was able to regain financial security. However, poor album sales and a health scare that impacted her self-financed Vegas residency show in 2007 led Braxton into filing for Chapter 7 in 2010.
“The Vegas show, I just renewed all my contracts with all my vendors, and then a month later I got sick,” Braxton recalled.
Falling into the same financial predicament twice for Braxton, made her feel unsettled.
“Because you’re supposed to be smarter. People expect for you to be smarter,” Braxton told ABC.
Today, she is in better circumstances and her troubled financial history is a thing of the past. According to Gingold Bankruptcy Law, in 2011 Braxton cited she owed her previous and current label $16 million in royalty payments, property taxes on her home, and three years of federal tax payments to the IRS, among other debts. She claimed she owed a total of $18.3 million and had $1.6 million in assets.
A federal court judged awarded Braxton a discharge of most of her debt.
“My bankruptcy situation worked out really great for me,” Braxton expressed to ABC.