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I first learned about Masterclass a couple of years ago while watching a Facebook ad.
The Ad was for one of their very first videos, from Neil Gaiman, somebody who I knew.
My first thoughts at the time were “Wow, this guy is a serious expert and I can get lessons from him? How much must they cost?“.
So when I saw that they didn’t cost much for the videos, I was pleasantly surprised..and a little skeptical. Why would an expert like Gaiman do masterclass courses for only a small price? Would it be any good?
Still, I kept seeing more videos coming out from more and more experts, and the production value looked amazing. I decided to buy the full all-access pass for only the price of two single courses (amazing price!) and check some of them out.
This Masterclass review is going to detail my findings and opinions.
By the way, want to what the BEST masterclasses are? I’ve written another article here.
My Masterclass Review
There ARE caveats though. Masterclass is more inspirational and strategic than hands-on technical expertise, so you need to understand that.
For example, Steve Martin gives some great tips and inspiration in his writing-comedy videos, and for the price, you are going to get a wonderful experience online education from him.
However, you’re not going to suddenly become an expert comedy-writer. Instead, you’ll want to use his teachings to continue to develop your skills.
In fact, I would strongly recommend buying the all-access pass. Buying one class is still a great price, but when you can get access to over 40 classes for just double, the price is almost a steal.
Read on to get more information and an inside look at what you get from this online education platform.
Masterclass All-Access Overview – Who Are The Company & What Do You Get?
Masterclass was founded in 2016 and is a venture-backed company operating out of San Francisco.
This explains how they managed to secure such a good domain name, along with all the experts they’ve recruited. It also explains the high production value you see compared to other online courses.
Most importantly though, it explains the vision and quality that you see surrounding the brand. They want to create the “Netflix of eLearning” and it seems like they understand how to do that.
In terms of what you get, when buying a single $90 class, you get access to the videos, some discussion boards, and in many cases a workbook. How useful this is varies depending on the course.
For example, in our review of Gordon Ramsay‘s masterclass, we noted that the workbook was very useful.
For the $180 (per year) “All Access Pass“, you get access to every current and future class, plus some curated playlists.
I really like the idea of playlists, because when I signed up I noted that there were multiple experts in similar categories, such as cooking or filmmaking, and I thought “It would be cool to put all of these classes together to make a more complete experience“.
Turns out Masterclass already had that idea.
I’ll talk about playlists in more detail further down the page.
On average, a class has around 15 videos. Each one varies in length, but they keep them digestible. Expect each video to be 10 minutes, give a take a couple of mins.
Here are the real benefits you get from Masterclass:
- Be among and connect with an inspired community with similar interests
- 24/7 access to world-renowned experts in their fields through high-quality videos, discussion boards and workbook exercises in 40+ courses (and growing!)
- A chance to act on your desire to learn and improve in your passion area – be it cooking, story-telling, music or design
- An economical investment to learn from these celebrities in their fields
What I Liked About Masterclass.com
The production value.
I’ve mentioned this already and have to mention it again. It really is filmed in high quality, and edited well.
Not only does this make a better learning environment (because you can actually understand what is being said, unlike many e-courses I’ve taken), but it also creates a more pleasant and enjoyable experience.
You can also see a trailer here which is very representative of the quality of the whole thing:
It feels like the expert really has put a lot of time and thought into their lessons, rather than just making a cameo appearance for a bit of extra cash.
The video player.
I’ve seen some clunky video players and some good ones, and this is definitely a good one.
There’s not a whole bunch I can say other than the ability to speed up or slow down playback, and the ability to watch with subtitles is a nice addition.
You can’t download the videos, which is a shame, but the online streaming quality is good enough that it’s not an issue, and I can understand why they don’t want people downloading and passing around the vids.
Seriously, being able to learn from industry-leading experts is incredible.
- Want cooking classes from a 3-star Michelin chef? Done!
- Want singing lessons from Christina Aguilera? Done!
- Want filmmaking lessons from Martin Scorsese? Done!
There’s a more complete list of experts and videos further down.
A brief insight into some of the most popular masterclasses
When setting up this course I was determined to provide you with proper reviews. Rather than just combine and rework what others have already said about their experience with the masterclass platform. So, before writing this I actually sat down and took some of the courses, in their entirety.
My intention was to take a handful of the courses and report my findings. But, as you can see from this site, once I took a few, I was hooked. So far, I have taken 55 of the 80 odd courses that are currently available on the platform.
Below, is a quick overview of what I thought of some of the most popular courses on the platform. Just an overview. If you want to, you can also read my in-depth review of each of these courses.
Ramsay is one of my favourite Masterclass instructors. His recipes are wonderful and he is a very good teacher.
I learned a lot from his two masterclasses. Here is a quick summary of what I learned from taking his course:
- Great recipes for entertaining – I like to host dinner parties and cook something special for my friends and family. Gordon´s courses provided me with some wonderful dishes. His Crispy Duck with Red Endive recipe pleases everyone I serve it to. Plus, of course, his famous scrambled eggs recipe is a hit with everyone. It is a wonderful treat for any time of the day or occasion.
- Kitchen equipment you didn´t know you needed – Until I took this course, I never owned a knife sharpener or a heavy-bottom frying pan. Taking Gordon´s course prompted me to buy both. Now, I would not be without either of them.
- How to break down a whole fish – I like eating fish but have never mastered the necessary skills to fillet my own. After taking Gordon´s first masterclass, I am proud to say that I can now break a whole fish down. I still need to practice a bit more before I serve my fillets to guests, but I am getting there with Gordon´s help.
If you like cooking, start with Gordon´s masterclasses. You can then move onto Thomas Keller, Aaron Franklin, Gabriela Camara and several other world-renowned chefs.
I nearly did not take this masterclass, I liked Steve Martin, but, was not interested in becoming a standup comic. But, a friend of mine had taken it and said it was fun. So, I thought why not.
Surprisingly, it was not only fun to take, I did end up learning a few things that I could actually put to use in my own life. Here are a couple of examples, along with a little more insight into what someone who is interested in becoming a comedic performer could learn by taking this masterclass.
- How to use pace, physicality and timing to deliver a joke or tell a story – At the time of taking this course, I had recently moved. As a result, I was busy attending various social events. Over the years, I have found having a few anecdotes to share helps to break the ice. It means I always have a way of sustaining a conversation. I used what I learned in Steve´s course to tell them in a more engaging way. From the reactions I got, I think it did actually help.
- How to efficiently edit your writing – I do a lot of freelance writing work, so Steve´s writing tips proved useful. In particular, the section that covered editing your work efficiently. Putting what I learned in that section into practice has saved me hours of time.
- How to create and develop comedy characters – Steve Martin´s comedy characters, for example, Roxanne, are legendary. In his masterclass, Steve explains how to decide on what characteristics they will have and how to use what you see around you to grow and develop a comedy character.
- How to turn a few jokes into a full set – A lot of comics find it fairly easy to come up with jokes. They naturally see the funny side of life, so they have no shortage of material. But, many comics struggle to string those individual jokes together into a set they can perform. In his course, Steve explains how to get over that hurdle. As well as how to make sure a joke that does not fit does not get forgotten and lost.
All in all Steve´s course was very enjoyable. It is a great example of why most people end up getting far more out of their all access pass than they are expecting.
One of the best things about masterclass is the way their courses provide you with an insight into worlds that would otherwise remain closed to you. In particular, the world of entertainment.
There are plenty of acting, directing and writing courses available. If you have a friend or family member who loves a particular writer, actor, musician or director buying them the relevant masterclass would make a fantastic present. For example, Samuel L Jackson Teaches Acting Masterclass. One of my best masterclass choices.
My love of Aaron Sorkin´s work and the fact that I am also a writer, prompted me to take his masterclass. It was long, very long, but truly excellent. Here are a few highlights of what I learned by taking it.
- How to conduct a research interview – regardless of what type of writer you are, getting the research part of the process right is vital. It is a complex process, which Aaron was particularly good at breaking down into a long, but easy to follow, step-by-step list.
- How to write captivating dialogue – writing dialogue is something I have always struggled with. Aaron´s tips on how to tap into how people around you speak and use musicality and rhythm to create engaging dialogue have both proved invaluable.
- Developing good writing habits – if you have a book to write you need to take a disciplined approach. In his masterclass, Aaron shares how he makes sure he gets everything done in a timely fashion. I particularly liked the fact that he explains which tools he uses and how he uses them.
From the various reviews that I have read, it is clear that non-writers enjoy Aaron´s screenwriting course as well. It provides a fascinating insight into how big TV shows are made and developed. He also made me feel way better about the fact that I sometimes suffer from writer´s block. Apparently, he does all the time.
It’s actually very cool that there are multiple experts within a single category. Learning film from Martin Scorsese is great, but having a half dozen other famous filmmakers and actors also teaching classes means you can crowdsource your education.
Plus, since this is more about getting inspiration and strategy and some tidbits, rather than a deep technical education, the more experts that give their thoughts, the more insights you can take away.
The price for one lesson is great in my opinion, but for over 40 video lessons (at the time of writing), the all-access pass price is phenomenal.
Even if you’re only interested in some cooking lessons and won’t bother with the music or film stuff, you can get 8 cooking masterclasses for the same price as two single ones.
It’s almost a no brainer.
What I Didn’t Like in My Masterclass Reviews
Being an expert is not always the same as being a teacher
I’ve seen a few others mention this too, but basically not every expert is an equal at teaching. This makes sense because having a bunch of success and knowledge doesn’t guarantee that you are able to transfer that knowledge to other people easily.
However, this isn’t a huge negative.
Most of the experts ARE good teachers, and most of the classes are more about inspiring or teaching you higher-level insights, rather than nitty-gritty training.
The ones who do provide nitty-gritty training, like the culinary arts teachers (Gordon Ramsay for example), are good teachers as it happens.
I also didn’t like that you couldn’t download the videos, but this wasn’t a huge dislike, I’m just trying to find some other things that I didn’t like at this point.
Who Are The Experts?
There are a lot of experts already, and more being added all the time.
Here’s a current list:
Film & TV
- Jodie Foster
- Werner Herzog
- Mira Nair
- Ken Burns
- Spike Lee
- Judd Apatow
- Helen Mirren
- Ron Howard
- Samuel L. Jackson
- Martin Scorsese
- Shonda Rhimes
- Aaron Sorkin
- David Lynch
- Natalie Portman
Music & Entertainment
- Carlos Santana
- Tom Morello
- Christina Aguilera
- Armin Van Buuren
- Herbie Hancock
- Steve Martin
- Hans Zimmer
- Reba Mcentire
- Penn & Teller
- Itzhak Perlman
- Danny Elfman
- James Suckling
- Dominique Ansel
- Thomas Keller (He has 2 classes)
- Gordon Ramsay (He has 2 classes)
- Alice Waters
- Wolfgang Puck
- Aaron Franklin
- Massimo Bottura
Design, Photography & Fashion
- Will Wright
- Jimmy Chin
- Marc Jacobs
- Diane Von Furstenberg
- Annie Leibovitz
- Frank Gehry
- Anna Wintour
Politics & Society
- Paul Krugman
- David Axelrod & Karl Rove
- Bob Woodward
- Dr. Jane Goodall
Science & Technology
- Chris Hadfield
Sports & Games
Business, Politics & Society
- Daniel Negreanu
- Stephen Curry
- Serena Williams
- Garry Kasparov
- Simone Biles
- Phil Ivey
- Howard Schultz
- Sara Blakely
- Bob Iger
How Are The Classes Formatted?
If you hadn’t guessed by now, the classes are presented in video format. Each video is usually a few minutes long, up to around 15 minutes.
This keeps it digestible and easy to get through, while also forcing each video to only contain one or two themes, which keeps you from getting overwhelmed.
It does vary because some of the videos are more practical, while others are more theory-based.
There are also workbooks that act like extras or learning aids and are actually pretty useful.
I’ve been through a lot of courses in the past that had workbooks that I never even bothered looking at for more than a few seconds.
The video player is great, and it’s easy to logout and come back later and resume where you had left off.
This isn’t particularly revolutionary if you’ve taken online classes before, but it’s still a nice touch and worth mentioning.
So playlists are something I’ve talked about a few times already, and I’m a big fan. Essentially the Masterclass team has curated topics from across multiple classes.
To give you a better example, there is one playlist about storytelling, where you can see snippets from different experts. See the image below for a better idea of what I mean:
In the above playlist; “Story: Idea to ending” we get walked through thoughts from Aaron Sorkin, Steve Martin, Judy Blume, Malcolm Gladwell, and James Patterson to get a short 10-minute briefing about storytelling.
It flows really well and I was surprised at how well I enjoyed it.
There are a bunch of different playlists following the same pattern:
There’s also “The Hub” which is a community attached to the Masterclass all-access pass which allows you to discuss some of the points in the classes.
Think of it as a forum.
I haven’t spent a ton of time in there, but it seems like a good addition at no extra cost.
It is a bit annoying that the videos cannot be downloaded. I totally understand why not, but it is a pain because it means you have to be online to enjoy the courses you have bought.
However, every course does come with a workbook. That is downloadable. Plus, if you want to, you can print it off too.
For the most part, the workbooks are extremely good. In fact, many of the experts include a ton of extra information in their workbooks. They also make it easier for you to be able to dip in and out of the video courses and find what you want fairly quickly. The provision of a workbook in a downloadable PDF format is a nice touch that most of the other online education providers do not offer.
Masterclass Cost & Value
In case it wasn’t obvious already, I personally think the masterclass cost & value of the masterclass all-access-pass is fantastic. I also think that an individual class is of good value.
These aren’t going to really help you go from complete beginner to absolute master, but for this price, you shouldn’t expect them to.
However, being able to get some insights on your chosen topic, as well as a lot of practical tips and theory, from industry experts with years of experience is awesome.
The fact you can get all that masterclass worth for the current price is something you can’t pass up, and it’s very unlikely you’ll end up regretting it.
Is masterclass better than other learning platforms?
My exploration of Masterclass was, for me, a real eye-opener. It taught me that online learning platforms have come a long way in the past decade or so. The quality is far higher than it used to be.
IN fact and my experience with my first Masterclass course was so good, that it got me curious about what other learning platforms had to offer. I am currently in the process of taking courses on Udemy, CreativeLive, FutureLearn, Skillshare and Great Courses.
My plan is to compare those learning platforms with what Masterclass has to offer and let you know what I find out. Once I have completed more of each learning platform´s courses, I will write up some proper reviews. But, for now, here is a quick comparison between them and what Masterclass has to offer.
Masterclass Vs Udemy
The main difference between Masterclass and Udemy is the kind of instructors you get. On Masterclass, you are learning from people with a proven track record. Most of whom are famous for the thing they are teaching. So there is no arguing with their expertise. They are all at the peak of their industry.
Whereas, potentially, anyone can load up a course on Udemy. Except that is not quite what happens. Every course on their platform is vetted. So, the quality of videos is actually relatively high. You rarely come across a course with poor sound or picture quality.
But, with Udemy, you do not know for sure how much the person teaching you knows about their subject. Not everyone who teaches on there is an expert.
Until the course has got quite a few reviews it is hard to tell how good it is. This is because the validity of what is being taught is not checked. At least not in an in-depth way. But, I´ve yet to speak to anyone who has had a really bad experience with Udemy. At least not in the past few years. Their review and the ease with which you can get a refund, provided you have not completed too much of the course, helps to keep the standards high.
Whereas with Masterclass you know for sure you are learning from experts. Every single one of their celebrity instructors is world-renowned.
The type of content you get on Udemy is different too. There are film making, writing, acting and cooking courses available on both platforms. But, Udemy offers far more variety. There are tons of tech, marketing, personal development and business-related courses. Masterclass has those too, but in far fewer numbers.
Lastly, with Udemy you have to pay for every single course. There is no all-access pass like there is for Masterclass.
Masterclass Vs The Great Courses
In terms of the material on offer, The Great Courses has far less emphasis on the creative arts, cooking and writing than Masterclass does. Those subjects are covered, but not to the same extent.
There is far more variety available on The Great Courses platform. With subjects like philosophy, science and the fine arts being covered.
The instructors are different too. Just like with Udemy, the instructors are not world-renowned experts.
However, most of the courses on The Great Courses platform are taught by people who have qualifications in their field. For example, doctors and professors. Even a National Geographic photographer.
In some cases, the quality of the videos is not as good as on Masterclass. Partly because some of them were created 9 or 10 years ago and without the aid of a professional film making team. But over the past few years, the quality has improved. As course providers have got their hands on the more sophisticated kit, so the standards have gone up.
Prices vary greatly too on The Great Courses platform too. They start at just under $10 and go up to nearly $100 each. You used to be able to subscribe and get a monthly pass that gave you access to all of the courses. But, when I checked, while writing this, I could not for the life of me find it. So, currently, it looks like there is no subscription offer.
The other unusual thing about The Great Courses is that they are available in DVD and pure audio formats. It makes a refreshing change to find a firm still offering off-line learning formats. After all a significant percentage of the world´s population do not have affordable or reliable access to the web.
Masterclass Vs CreativeLive
As the name indicates, CreativeLive is very much about the creative arts. Photography is a particularly well-covered subject, on this online learning platform. Whereas at my time of writing this, Masterclass only offered two photography classes. But, both were created by award-winning photographers with an amazing track record.
Again, the biggest difference between the two platforms is the kind of teacher you get. Most of CreativeLive´s instructors are good, as far as I can see. It is just that they have not broken through into the big time and become world-famous for their work.
The other difference is the depth into which the instructor goes. Taking photography as an example again. It is impossible for Annie Lebovitz to cover the subject of frequency separation for portraits, in-depth like Lisa Carney does in her CreativeLive course. But Annie does tell you how to draw out a person´s personality when creating portraits. Both courses are excellent. But each of them has something different to offer.
That is the wonderful thing about online learning. If you dig deep and take advantage of all of the learning platforms out there, you can learn anything. You can get an insight into a subject, an overview, or dig a little deeper and hone one specific set of skills.
That is why I am trying out more online course providers and will be reviewing them all. My aim is for you to be able to turn to this site when you want to learn something new and instantly know which course provider to turn to.
Masterclass.com Tips For Getting The Most Out Of It
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I think the best way to get the most out of your membership is to:
- Combine a lot of classes from different experts.
Learning cooking from one expert is good, but learning from seven is even better. The same is true for all categories, and they have a lot of different categories.
While some categories only have 1 or 2 classes right now, you can be sure that more will be added over time. In the 2+ years that Masterclass has been around, they’ve added close to 50 classes already.
- Playlists are another great way to utilize this too.
Especially if you fancy diving into a new category and don’t know where to start.
Ultimately, what I did was to focus on the topics that interested me in the most, and then decided to start digging into the others, picking up a few hobbies along the way.
Final Verdict: Do I Recommend Masterclass.com?
You just have to make sure you know what you’re getting out of it, which is what the whole point of what this masterclass review is all about.
Q: Can I buy just one MasterClass?
A: Unfortunately, no. Single class purchase practice ended with 2021. There is a 30-day free trial after which you have an all time pass. All-access pass price is $180 per year.
Q: Can you pay for Masterclass monthly?
A: Masterclass offers an all-access pass that costs $180 per year. Full access pass is billed annually. Before you make your decision, you can try Masterclass with a 30-day free trial.
Q: Why is Master Class so expensive and is it worth it?
A: $180 is the price for access to every single course. All-access pass enables you to take every single class of the platform for the price you would pay for 2 individual courses. Masterclass is well worth the price.
Q: How Long Do You Have Access To Masterclass?
A: After a 30-day free trial you have lifetime access to MasterClass. An all-access pass for $180 per year. All access means all the current AND future classes are available to you.
Q: How long is each class on Masterclass?
A: Masterclass classes are divided in lessons that range from 5-24 minutes in length. One class will take anywhere from 2-5 hours of your time.
Q: Can You Cancel Masterclass? How Do I Get A Refund?
A: Yes, you can cancel and get your money back if you wish. To cancel any time, log into your account, go to edit, and click on cancel subscription. To get a refund of your purchase within the last 30 days, follow the steps outlined here!
Q: Can You Download Masterclass Videos?
A: Unfortunately, no, you cannot download the videos, but you can download any workbooks or exercises. Besides select videos that are made available offline on the mobile app, you would need to be online in order to view the majority of the MasterClass videos.
Q: Does MasterClass have an app?
A: Yes. Android and iOS. You can watch Masterclass on your smartphone, personal computer, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku streaming media players.
Q: Does Masterclass Give Certificates?
A: No certificates are given out but you get an email after each completed class.
Q: Does Masterclass Have A Free Trial?
A: Yes. All of MasterClass are free for 30 days.