MasterClass Review | I’ll Take a Closer Look if I Were You
It’s been a year since I heard about MasterClass.com from an acquaintance. I heard that it’s like an online school with renowned people as instructors. They aren’t just renowned; they’re also the top people in their respective fields. I was like, sure, it’s a nice idea. But I gave it a pass back then.
Things changed when, two months ago, a colleague of mine showed me the site. It’s the first time I saw it. I immediately found something interesting. It was Christina Aguilera’s class on singing. I tasked myself to check it out, and it led me to review that class and Usher’s. By the way, you should check out my reviews on Usher and Christina Aguilera’s class.
With two classes reviewed, it’s safe for me to give my personal review on MasterClass.com.
Before we proceed to the review proper, let’s go over what’s on paper out-of-the-way first.
MasterClass is an online learning platform that provides instructional videos to its members. Its main selling point is its instructors.
Director David Rogier and entrepreneur Aaron Rasmussen formed Masterclass in 2014. It was called Yanka Industries before. It is based in San Francisco, California.
The platform had just a few topics ranging from film and music to writing. Last year, the platform expanded to add more classes and instructors. Some of the new topics cover economics, politics, and video game design.
The instructors here are all world-renowned artists, celebrities, and personalities. To give you an idea of who you might be facing as your instructor in this site, let me tell you a few names:
- Stephen Curry teaching basketball
- Gordon Ramsay teaching cooking
- Natalie Portman teaching acting
There are more than 75 classes and instructors. The average number of lessons per class is around 20 videos. The average length of videos is around 10 minutes.
There are two payment or billing options: annual ($180) and a single class ($90). You also have the option to give annual or single class subscriptions to another person.
EDIT: As of now, MasterClass removed the single class and gifting option. You can now only opt for the annual all-access pass that costs $180.
Getting Straight to the Point: Why Spend Money on It?
In all honesty, the $90 single class is too expensive. It saddens me to say that it’s a marketing trick to make potential members choose the $180 all-access pass. The $15 per month is also a marketing trick to water down the high cost.
But the actual question is: Is it worth it? The answer is yes. But I understand that people have their own spending priorities and may not agree with my opinion. So, let me do a simple comparison.
Let’s put this service against SkillShare. SkillShare’s premium service is $12 a month while MasterClass’s all-access is $15.
The advantages of SkillShare are:
1. You can actually get free lessons even if you don’t sign up for a premium.
2. It has a premium trial and various promotions. Also, the premium can be canceled at any time.
3. It has more courses, instructors, and topics.
4. Some of its instructors are credible and popular YouTube personalities.
The biggest disadvantage of SkillShare is its content. The level and quality of the lessons may vary a lot. Some of the lessons are slides put together with narration. Also, better versions of those lessons are available from the web. Most of them can even be found on YouTube.
The advantages of MasterClass are:
1. You get insights from the highest level of pros in the industry.
2. You get to see the point of view of people who actually made it to the top.
3. You get to learn things that aren’t posted ad nauseam on the web.
4. It has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The only disadvantage of MasterClass is its high paywall, which locks you down for a year. That can be rationalized by the 30-day money-back guarantee. A month is enough for you to decide if the service is actually right for you.
From my perspective, I would rather try and pay for MasterClass. It’s easy to sign up but do not miss using the guarantee
Besides, I can always browse on SkillShare to look for a course I want to watch. If I do, I can subscribe and cancel once I’m done. Before anything else, I would like to say that SkillShare isn’t inferior in any form. It’s just not what I need.
What I want to look into is the experience of a successful individual who has reached the world stage. Only a handful of them is willing to share what they know. I would willingly pay a premium to know what it’s like where they are now and how it became possible for them to get there.
Lesson and Video Quality: Are the Trailers Just for Show?
The trailers are the one thing I was scared of the most. Why? Because they made the service too good to be true, their trailers have:
1. A-list stars and personalities
2. High production value
3. All those instructors are said to teach for more than two hours of content*
*You can get the courses for $180, full-year access. This roughly translates to $2.40 (or less). Each course has an average of 200 minutes (3h20m or less) for all the lessons.
With my fingers crossed, I dived into it. I entered my information on the registration page telling me that they would bill $180 on my account. Quickly, I went to Christina Aguilera’s page and skipped the introduction.
And I was amazed. The quality was consistent. The trailers were not just clickbait for watered-down slideshow videos. I thought it was just for Christina, so I tried other random courses.
Once I was done checking, I felt relieved that my money didn’t go down the drain. One of the things I appreciated the most was that they didn’t try to direct the instructor’s personality. They allowed the instructor to speak what was on their mind.
They don’t appear to act like they were teaching. This made things more genuine. They were more like mentoring you and were speaking to you as if you’re alone in the room with them.
Also, I want to share that the videos are accompanied by graphical overlays. It makes it easier and faster to digest the lessons presented.
Short Video Lesson: Is it Effective?
The video lessons from MasterClass are as short as a monetized video on YouTube on average. Are those videos long enough to impart some meaningful lessons? The short answer is, yes. You aren’t required to listen to an hour-long lecture to learn the crucial information you need.
You should know that you can learn how to sing better and more properly by watching a 10-minute video. But you can’t master singing better and more properly in 10 minutes. The keywords there are “learn” and “master”.
For example, you can learn that you need to have breathing techniques to sing better. But you can’t do the proper breathing techniques you needed. To master a skill, you only need less time for learning. You actually need to spend more time practicing and accumulating experience.
Other Features: Does it Only Provide Videos?
The site provides commentaries and lesson notes for every video. The lesson notes are very convenient. If you want to go over some of the parts that got you confused, you can use the notes. The same goes for reviewing the whole thing without going through minutes of video.
Each video also has a comment section for the learners. As of now, those sections only have an average of seven to nine comments. I can assume that the community in MasterClass is still small. The way it’s set up and the number of courses is still few. I doubt it’ll be growing into something big soon.
Lastly, some of the lessons come with educational tools. Depending on the course and lesson, the site may provide some files and applications. In Christina’s course, you’ll get an app to track your progress and a 47-page workbook.
Nitpick Details: How Does It Compare to Other Platforms?
For now, I can say that MasterClass is selling a unique product. It can’t be compared to what other online education platforms (e.g., Udemy, RCampus, Learnopia) provide.
One, its courses don’t deal with the regular academic and college courses. You don’t get any recognition or diploma after you finish a course.
Two, it doesn’t provide a classroom environment. It does give you that mentoring vibe, but it’s definitely not a class. It’s a one-way interaction between you and the instructor.
From what I’ve read, some classes may allow you to speak to someone from MasterClass. But I’m sure there’s no way you can get in touch with the instructor.
Three, the progress of your learning is up to you. Getting MasterClass is like getting a book. There’s no one that will point out your mistakes when you practice and there will be no one to push you to do anything.
Is MasterClass For You?
If you thrive in a classroom environment or hands-on teaching, this isn’t for you. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from or enjoy it.
To be quite frank, there’s a lot of reasons I can think of for people to join. For one, I’m sure that the music classes from this site are the only thing people can get interested in.
If you like playing chess, they have Garry Kasparov. If you like fiction writing, they have Dan Brown. And if you like Science, then they have Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
If you’re interested in checking these amazing celebrity instructors, you can check them out here. You don’t even need the reason that you need to learn something to get this service. I, for one, don’t have a large interest in playing poker, but I enjoy watching Daniel Negreanu. Each instructor in MasterClass doesn’t only teach. They also tell you their interesting stories, which can be both enjoyable and inspiring.
This might be the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. It’s kind of like Skillshare, but cooler topics! I have a friend that teaches professional guitar instruction in NYC (he’s no joke), and this might be something he can get on. He’s actually been on a couple of tv shows there. He’s pretty popular. Can they sign up through the site or do they need another avenue in?
That’s awesome about your friend, Thomas.
Yes, they can sign up directly through the site, or you can just go here.
This is a great and amazing article that is highly recommended. I learnt that masterclass is a online learning platform that provides instructional videos. I really love the fact that the article also talk more on music history. I really would love to pay the $15 fee so I can learn more marketing tricks. Thanks for sharing this amazing article
That is awesome, Perry. If you see the video trailer on their website, you’ll be surprised by what jam-packed experts in their field of disciplines. There’s something for everyone to learn from this site. It’s an amazing idea. You can also send it as a gift for a birthday present or any other occasion as a matter of fact.
I agree with you that you have to be pretty self-motivated to success with Master Class. I would be the one to buy it and then never do anything with it unfortunately! But for the people who can handle online learning that is self-paced, I say go for it! It’s always a good idea to learn new things and gain new skills.
You got that right, Katie. Thank you for your comment.
Hallo there Richard,
Thanks a lot for taking the time to offer a really thorough review on Masterclass. I also heard about it in class and the famous people who are in it and I thought it was a scam at first. But after a few people mentioned it to me, I thought I should give it a look. As you said, everyone will perceive it differently and we all have different priorities. But for me, I think it is a really worthwhile investment considering you are being taught by people who’ve succeeded in that particular area. That’s a huge thing for me. I will give it a go and hopefully I will be back to offer my personal experience with it.
P.S. I had a bit of difficulty in opening you page on my browser. Could you please fix that? Otherwise, the content here is just awesome!
I’m glad you’re seeing the value of my post and thank you for the nice comment. I’ll take a look at the issue on opening the page. Thanks for letting me know.
it is a great and nice feeling to know that someone will create a great website like this and also create a write up on an article like this. one great feature i love about master class is the commentaries that is provided for videos that are posted. i am impressed with this article
I’m glad to hear your good comments, Benny.
Hello there! This is an amazing review. One main reason I admire Master class is that there is a wide variety of courses available for skilled professionals and beginners alike. Also the quality of its instructors is MasterClass’ unique selling point with every instructor being a master in their crafts and at such, the fee is worth it!
It’s awesome, isn’t it?
Wow, I had never heard about this learning platform! I do have to say that I have a secret crush on Gordon Ramsey and I’ve been binge-watching all of his series. Knowing that he is offering cooking lessons makes me go wild! I’m just not sure if the monthly subscription is going to do it for me as at this moment there are not a lot of classes that spike my interest. Do you know if they are a fast-growing platform?
When I first learned about it in January 2019, there were only 45+ instructors. Now, they have 80+ and it’s constantly growing, every day.
Interesting review thank you. This really is an excellent and powerful example of how we are gradually changing the way that we as consumers of information are changing our habits as we look for efficient and convenient ways to build knowledge and skills on a wide range of interests, occupations and past times.
This has the added advantage of giving access to real masters to thousand and even tens of thousands simultaneously at actually very reasonable prices. If we take the singing example you would happily pay this price for a ticket to see them in concert. To get their personal time for this price is pretty special.
Nice post thanks 🧐
You hit the nail on the head on this one, especially when you said “powerful”. When was the last time in our life that the most accomplished individuals in the world are sharing some of the secrets of their success in your face? I’m with you, with its efficiency, convenience, and reasonable prices, it’s available to anyone who wants and ready for it.
I really appreciate your observation.
Love this review! The details are spot on! I have been curious on the sudden verge of MasterClass here and there from a number of celebrities. I found the reason why it is now a widespread. Thank you for educating me with such a light mood in your review. I was hooked from the first section on to the next until I reached the end. Keep it up!
I’m very honored to hear your comment. It’s very humbling. Thank you.
The competition between these kinds of webs has made that some of them are really helpful stars. We do can learn a lot from google and youtube today, but as you said if we can have more interactive experience with the instructor in Masterclass, I think that it is worth trying. And it seems that masterclass is not kind of share common sense type web. I’m going to go for a try and have some fun. And thank you for the deep down information.
What caught my attention is when you said, “…it is worth trying”. You’ll never know what’s waiting for you until you go in there yourself and experience it. Then you make the decision where to go from there after that.
Hey, thanks for stopping by.