Rihanna invests more personal money on her music videos than her own label does...

For the longest time, director Anthony Mandler has served as Rihanna's muse. They've done 17 music videos together, which have wracked up over a billion views on YouTube. Mandler says Ri funds more money into her own music videos and recalls a time where her label were so terrified of her darker vision in 'Disturbia' that they had planned to shelve it. Rihanna being Rihanna stood her ground and won out in the end.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, he says:
“'Disturbia' was probably the biggest moment because that was the first time she let the world see what was inside her. ['Disturbia'] was the 5th or 6th single off the album. I think she probably paid for a lot of it herself. And she said “We’re doing whatever I want. You can’t tell me anything.” And I said “No problem.” When I saw it together, I knew it was something special. It scared the shit out of the label. I think there was a conversation at one point about shelving it. It was one of those moments when she was kind of smarter than everyone else.”
I always hear about Rihanna being nothing more than a manufactured industry puppet that has no say or influence when it comes to her brand. Obviously, not the case. When a record label doesn't agree with an artist's vision, or have no faith in their creative ideas and choices they tend to pull back. It's up to the artist to use their power (and money) to make a statement, which in this case, is exactly what Rihanna did. One of the reasons why she has managed to get this far (on what some would say "minimal talent") is because she has never been afraid to explore and take risks, from the sound of her music right down to her image and visuals.