On July 1 2010, Crestock was acquired by Masterfile Corporation. Acquisitions of microstock agencies by more traditional stock agencies have been a common trend over the past few years. Both micro and macro agencies seem poles apart with their price levels and business strategies, but the sensible people at least realise that they now both have a place in the market and can coexist.
I only have experience of Crestock as a contributor and can’t comment on the buyers’ side, which might be a bed of roses for all I know. The contributor side though has been appallingly mismanaged and bitterness felt towards them can be found in abundance in various microstock forums and even on Crestock’s own forum.
Issues of contention include:
- Exceptionally long review times for submitted work. I only submitted images on a couple of occasions, but I waited weeks for them to be reviewed, many contributors have reported waiting for months.
- Exceptionally high rejection rates. Every contributor learns to accept that not all his/her images will be accepted. From memory when I tried to submit to Crestock in 2008, I initially submitted a handful of photos (less than 10), of which 4 were accepted and then I submitted 17 photos of which all were rejected. I was astounded and never submitted again. I have since read on several occasions that this is a common experience. One successful microstocker submitted 1000 images of which 25 were accepted. Not surprisingly he described this as an “insult”.
- Contributing photographers complain about having to wait months for payment once payment has been requested. Again, it is insulting for a contributor to have to wait for months for his/her payment. The agency has already received payment for the sold images and not to regard payment to the copyright holders as a priority is inexcusable.
- No response to emails sent by contributors to support.
The President of Masterfile, has stated in Crestock’s blog and in an email to contributors that these issues will be addressed:
1. Payouts. The first order of business will be to get all unpaid royalties (a.k.a. “commissions”) paid to artists who have previously requested payouts. This process will be completed within two weeks. You can rest assured that payments will be regular and timely from now on.
2. Image backlog. Crestock currently has a considerable backlog of new images in the editing queue. We will get that cleared within two months. In the meantime, we are adding experienced image inspectors and editors to our team to handle larger volumes – so we will welcome your new image submissions and will move them through the process quickly.
3. Quick Response Time. Over the past year, Crestock operated with reduced staff which seriously restricted their ability to respond to questions and problems. Effective immediately, you can expect a response to your e-mail inquiries within 24 hours (weekends not included).
It’s a good start by Masterfile to openly declare the problems that Crestock has had and state that they intend to deal with them. “The first order of business will be to get all unpaid royalties (a.k.a. “commissions”) paid to artists who have previously requested payouts.” Does that include those who gave up waiting to be paid and cancelled their accounts? If they manage to succeed in turning things around they can win back disenchanted contributors, which incidentally as annoying as agencies probably find us sometimes, um we have our uses!
Actually, Crestock has a lot going for it. There are a few neat features on the site, such as seeing your typed keyword history and recently viewed images when you are logged in. Buyers have the option of purchasing subscription packages, credits or they can just buy an individual image. Also aesthetically speaking the site looks great, no need for a revamp in my opinion.
I won’t be submitting images just yet though. I intend to wait a while and look for comments in forums on how the new “experienced image inspectors and editors” are doing, before deciding whether to give Crestock another try.