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 Wener Horzeg, 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 only cost $90 for the videos, I was pleasantly surprised..and a little skeptical. Why would an expert like Werner do a course for only $90? Or if his course was only $90..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 $180 (amazing price) and check some of them out.
This review is going to detail my findings and opinions.
Masterclass Review – Is It Worth Buying?
Absolutely it is. 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 $90 you are going to get a wonderful experience learning 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 for $90 is still a great price, but when you can get access to over 40 classes for $180, the price is almost a steal.
Read on to get more information and an inside look at what you get.
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 details 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.
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.
Again, I like the fact you can take specific tracks with the playlists.
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.
$90 for one lesson is great in my opinion, but $180 for over 40 lessons (at the time of writing), 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
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
Music & Entertainment
- Carlos Santana
- Tom Morello
- Christina Aguilera
- Armin Van Buuren
- Herbie Hancock
- Steve Martin
- Hans Zimmer
- Reba Mcentire
- Neil Gaiman
- Dan Brown
- Margaret Atwood
- R.L. Stine
- Malcolm Gladwell
- Judy Blume
- David Mamet
- James Patterson
- James Suckling
- Dominique Ansel
- Thomas Keller (He has 2 classes)
- Gordon Ramsay (He has 2 classes)
- Alice Waters
- Wolfgang Puck
Design, Photography & Fashion
- Will Wright
- Jimmy Chin
- Marc Jacobs
- Diane Von Furstenberg
- Annie Leibovitz
- Frank Gehry
Politics & Society
- Paul Krugman
- David Axelrod & Karl Rove
- Bob Woodward
- Dr. Jane Goodall
Sports & Games
- Daniel Negreanu
- Stephen Curry
- Serena Williams
- Garry Kasparov
Business, Politics & Society
- Howard Schultz
Science & Technology
- Chris Hadfield
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 which 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 like a forum.
I haven’t spent a ton of time in there, but it seems like a good addition at no extra cost.
Masterclass.com Price & Value
In case it wasn’t obvious already, I personally think the price & value of the masterclass all-access-pass is fantastic. I also think that an individual class is good value at $90.
These aren’t going to really help you go from complete beginner to absolute master, but for $90, 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 for just $90 or $180/year, is something you can’t pass up, and it’s very unlikely you’ll end up regretting.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of It
As I’ve mentioned a few time,s 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?
Yes absolutely. You just have to make sure you know what you’re getting out of it, which is what the whole point of this masterclass review is all about.