Last Updated on by Karl
Tired of seeing MasterClass ads everywhere and want a complete MasterClass review before paying $180?
I’ve had MasterClass for almost a year now and spent nearly 250 hours binging classes from the world’s best from bed, the shower, in the gym, on breaks from work, cooking, and pretty much everywhere else you can imagine.
I’m already well past 50 of the 100+ courses on the platform.
In this review, I’ll break down all the most important details and answer every important question you need to know BEFORE BUYING based on my 1 year of quarantine binging. That way, you’ll actually know the truth. And, I’ll tell you why I think everyone thinks about MasterClass the wrong way.
- What I’ve learned
- Why I think it’s 100% worth the money (but not for everyone)
- Who it’s for and not for
- Why I believe some of the criticisms are completely fair
- The #1 reason MasterClass is awesome (that nobody talks about)
- Which courses are super valuable and which ones are duds
Plus, I’ll give you a sneak peek at top-rated courses from Gordon Ramsay, Steve Martin, Serena William (#BOSS), Daniel Negreanu (my favorite), James Patterson, and Margaret Atwood.
Ready? Let’s go.
Why I Finally Pulled the Trigger on MasterClass… And Got Way More Than I Bargained For
I never thought I’d buy MasterClass.
Something just rubbed me the wrong way about it.
I think it was all the annoying ads that just put me off…
And I’d heard a lot of “meh” rumblings from people in my circle, too.
But then I saw Daniel Negreanu’s class on poker, and thought “Oh, SH**!”
I thought, “Kid Poker? The living legend?” He’s the reason I got into online poker.
And it came at the perfect time, too. I was in the middle of the worst losing streak of my life.
I’d always thought I was a good poker player, but apparently “good” meant “good enough to win at parties with my friends.”
Any time I lost, I’d just brush it off as “bad luck” or a “cold deck.” It didn’t help that I deposited a bunch of money to an online poker site during quarantine and started grinding cash tables all night.
It’s easy to lie to yourself.
Do you know what doesn’t lie? An empty cashier on a poker site.
So, I did what any level-headed person who could control their gambling urges would do: DO MENTAL GYMNASTICS TO JUSTIFY DEPOSITING MORE MONEY ONTO A POKER SITE!
I checked the trailer, read a couple of forums, and crunched the numbers. A 7.5-hour class for $180 came to about $24/hr to hear probably the best player in the world show me how to actually win at poker.
It was literally pennies.
I’m not a pro or anything now, but I know so much more about thinking poker. Board texture, reading opponents, analyzing hand ranges, and other super nerdy stuff that you probably don’t care about.
And that was just ONE class.
I’ve watched dozens more full courses on super interesting topics like business, creative thinking, and scientific thinking and reasoning (where’s my cookie?).
Plus, MasterClass introduced me to topics I never thought I’d be interested in like DJing, cooking, baking, and drumming. I liked Sheila E’s drumming course so much I actually bought an electronic drum set that I use all the time. I would have NEVER considered drumming if I hadn’t bought Masterclass.
MasterClass has been a game-changer for me, just not in the way I expected. I haven’t become an expert on anything. But it has gotten me into so many more things I’d never been exposed to before.
I practice drums almost every day. I actually use my apartment’s basketball court now. I win at poker… sometimes. Another cool thing is I can actually analyze TV show plots now when I watch Netflix and predict what’s going to happen in the next scene.
I also think I have more interesting stuff to talk about with my friends instead of just pop culture BS.
That’s why I’m so gung ho about the platform. If you use it the right way, it’s amazing. If you go in with the wrong expectations, you’re going to be disappointed.
OK, speaking of expectations, let’s actually get to my review of MasterClass
Is MasterClass Worth the Money?
Yes, MasterClass is 100% worth the money.
It’s $15 per month for unlimited access to the best and brightest minds on nearly every subject. That’s like $.50 cents per day for a membership you’re going to use every day to become a better human being and live a more interesting life.
Genius instructors, high-level information, great production quality, and hours of entertainment for that cheap is great value to me.
For half of one dollar, you get:
- Lots of great tips from high-level instructors
- A window into the lives of people you look up to
- Hours and hours of entertainment
- Practical career advice from people who’ve done it before
- Tons of interesting stories from celebs
Yeah, it sucks paying $180 upfront, but it’s for an entire years membership with unlimited access.
MasterClass: Pros and Cons
- Class quality: Most classes provide a lot of value both in theory and practical tips. Plus, instructors give class notes for studying, analyzing, and improving your craft after lessons.
- Structure: Each class is built smoothly one lesson on top of the other. It’s easy to digest and you never feel “lost.” Each class tells a story and the pace is on point.
- Production value: The video, audio, and overall flow are flawless. It’s almost like you’re in the same room with the instructor.
- Value for money: $180 for unlimited access to 1,000+ hours of courses from celebrity instructors is a great value. $180 for one course is fair. That price for 100+ courses is a steal. $15/month for complete access to what’s called the hub of celebrity education. Not bad.
- Connection to personas: I personally enjoy connecting with people I’ve admired for so long, even if it’s only watching their video lessons. Just listening to Negreanu talk about poker for 8 hours felt so cool to me.
- Some courses need to be updated: I think I saw a few from 2015, 2016, and 2019. A lot of the content is evergreen, but certain courses in business or creative arts might be a bit outdated.
- Hit or miss: Most courses are a hit but a few big draws were duds. I’m not going to name names right now, though.
- Annual membership only: $180 upfront isn’t affordable for some people, especially students, but it’s totally worth the money.
- A bit too much storytelling: I actually like this, but I think it’s a fair criticism. Some courses have multiple videos where the instructor tells their background story. Could be a positive if you’re a fan of that celeb, but you definitely won’t learn much.
- Some stuff just goes over your head: I doubt a hobby chef will get much value from Gordon Ramsay talking about his philosophy of vegetables. How is that even a thing?
Why I Recommend Everyone Tries MasterClass
Think of someone you look up to in music, arts, culture, business, or whatever else you’re into.
Now imagine they’re your college professor, and you’re taking a class on their life’s work.
You learn their back story, their view on the field, the tips and tricks that have driven them to success, the mistakes they’ve made, and the overall creative vision or strategies they’ve used to get to the top. Plus you get some fun behind-the-scenes stories you’d never hear elsewhere.
You spend hours and hours immersed in what feels like a private consultation with someone you’ve looked up to for years—assuming you’re like me when it came to Daniel Negreanu’s course.
You pay a relatively low fee for an annual membership to learn classes from the people at the top of their field and expose yourself to a ton of interesting personas, topics, skills, and opinions.
If you don’t come out of it as a smarter, more well-rounded person, then I don’t know what to say. Not trying to push you too hard. Just trying to give you some perspective.
The Top 10 Best MasterClass Classes
Some courses are absolute fire, and some are a waste of 5 hours listening to someone famous brag about their life and give boring advice.
Here are the top courses on the platform based on my experience, the opinions of other people I know who’ve taken them, and feedback from various students online. I’ve scored them 1 -10 to give you a quick gauge of whether each one is worth your time or not.
If you’re considering buying MasterClass, you should scan this for a quick second to make sure the classes you’re interested in have good scores or not.
These are in no particular order, by the way.
1. Daniel Negreanu Teaches Poker (9/10)
An absolute beast of a poker theory course that walks you through everything from the basics right up through analyzing the board and thinking your opponent’s hand rather than your own.
I’m 100% sure you can go from a losing player (like me!) to a decent winner just from this course and a bit of practice. I think it’s worth the price of MasterClass alone. I rate this as the best course hands-down.
2. Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking (7.5/10)
A 20-lesson tour-de-force in the culinary arts. Gordon teaches you everything you need to know to avoid getting screamed at in the kitchen by him. You’ll master herbs and veggies, knife skills, and how to source high-quality ingredients.
My only knock is that the recipes he teaches are really complex and expensive to make. Overall, really entertaining and eye-opening.
3. Steve Martin Teaches Comedy (8/10)
Steve, one of the most popular American comedians, shares more than 50 years’ worth of insight and wisdom into performing comedy in drive-in movies, clubs, stadiums, and blockbuster movies. He breaks down successful film scripts, how to find your voice, morality, profanity, writing, and growing as a performer. I don’t think I like a single one of his movies, and I still loved this course.
4. Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing (8/10)
One of the most influential voices of modern literature walks you step-by-step through turning ideas into compelling novels. She covers everything from getting started as a writer to creating a historical setting, structuring a layered narrative, beating writer’s block, and crafting dialogue.
If only she could teach me writing for blog posts :'(
5. Serena Williams Teaches Tennis (8.5/10)
When a 23-time Grand Slam winner teaches you everything from her daily drills to netplay, baseline play, groundstrokes, anticipation, and mental toughness, you listen.
Her course inspired me to go buy tennis equipment and use my building’s tennis court.
NOTE: Tennis is hard. I switched back to shooting hoops.
6. James Patterson Teaches Writing (7/10)
James Patterson is a beast of a writer, and in this course he walks you through his creative process from ideation to plot creation, outlining, creating characters, and building suspense.
I personally liked how he structured the course exactly the same way he’d write a book. That means you can follow along as you write yours step-by-step and refer to his videos for inspiration and guidance.
The course is a mix of anecdotes, practical advice, theory, and philosophy of book writing. I heard a few people say that a lot of his practical advice is very basic, though. So I knocked it down a point.
During my research on the web, a lot of writers were trashing his instructing style. Since I’m not a writer, it’s hard for me to gauge whether they’re right or just trolls. I liked the course overall.
7. Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing (9/10)
Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors. His ability to tie academia to human psychology, culture, and behavior is so interesting.
In this course, he digs deep into building suspense, creating puzzles within stories to hook readers, conducting an “interview,” developing your story, and even using jargon to build a world.
Absolutely loved this course.
8. Chris Hadfield Teaches Space Exploration (7/10)
Chris Hadfield’s MasterClass might be both the most interesting and least practical course.
He teaches you everything about orbiting the Earth, launching shuttles and rockets, the ISS, deep space, and the future of exploration. It’s an 8-hour nerdfest.
If you’re interested in space and astronauts, it’s pretty cool. But it’s obviously not practical at all unless you’re studying to go into a space-related field. It’s also brain overload. I only got about halfway through until I was like, “how about some more poker or something?”
9. Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling (8/10)
A super interesting ride through the concepts behind good fiction. I never realized just how much fiction was grounded in reality, and how we have to attach it to inner parts of ourselves and others for it to be believable.
Neil talks about inspiration, creating great characters, creating mystery, and silencing your inner editor because no writing is wasted. I don’t plan on writing a book, but I found learning about fiction fascinating. The downside here is it’s a lot of theory behind fiction rather than a “how to write a good book” course.
10. Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television (9/10)
Shonda shares a complete roadmap to creating a killer TV series including tips taken directly from her journey to create, pitch, and finalize Grey’s Anatomy.
She teaches conceptualization, character creation, research, writing, and even pitching to big studios. Basically, she shows you exactly how to get your own Netflix original series. I’m not saying you’re going to succeed, she’s just going to show you how she did it.
I love watching series now, pointing out different plot points, and saying “I learned this in Shonda’s class.” My girlfriend is probably going to leave me. Maybe I’ll move to New York and start a new life…
Best MasterClass Courses: Honorable Mentions
Here are a few classes that have a great reputation around the web but didn’t make my 10 best cuts:
- Neil Degrasse Tyson – Teaches Scientific Thinking and Communication. Neil Degrasse Tyson has been one of the biggest hits on the platform, unsurprisingly.
- Judd Apatow – Teaches Comedy
- Christina Aguilera – Teaches Singing
- Garry Kasparov – Teaches Chess
- Thomas Keller – Teaches Cooking Techniques
- Judy Blume – Teaches Writing
- Annie Leibovitz – Teaches Photography
- David Lynch – Teaches Creativity and Film
- Dan Brown – Teaches Writing Thrillers
- Helen Mirren – Teaches Acting
- Natalie Portman – Teaches Acting
- Samuel L. Jackson – Teaches Acting
- Deadmau5 – Teaches Electronic Dance Music
- Dominique Ansel – Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals
5 Reasons I Recommend MasterClass
1. The video lessons are life-improving
It sounds cheesy, but I truly felt like I got something big out of every course that I use in my life regularly. Especially courses on poker, business, negotiation and making deals, and drumming. Some are just mindset stuff that I rarely use, but I use drumming and poker tips almost daily now.
2. It’s entertaining (nobody talks about this!)
I love watching Phil Ivy and Daniel Negreanu poker stuff on YouTube. So, when I can sit and listen to them talk about poker, I’m enthralled.
It’s like they’re actually talking to me, not staring at video lessons on the toilet (is that just me?). It feels like I’m face-to-face with my poker heroes chatting about the game over some drinks. I barely watch Netflix anymore.
If you’re into cooking, would you rather watch Gordon scream at idiots in a kitchen all day or watch 8 hours on his deepest insights on the craft? I think of Masterclass as an entertainment subscription just like Netflix, except it’s not mind-numbing garbage.
If you’re a movie buff, what would be more entertaining: a 2-hour Ron Howard movie or 8 hours of Ron Howard talking about how to make good movies? Definitely the latter for me.
3. It broadened my horizons
MasterClass makes it easy to “surf” around and deep-dive into interesting topics.
Like, one minute I’m learning about game theory and the next I’m watching Serena Williams teaching me her backhand serve. Then, when I’m falling asleep I’ll turn on Gary Kasparov’s chess class and learn a new chess gambit.
I picked a few new hobbies, and I never run out of things to talk about. This is a super underrated advantage of a Masterclass subscription.
4. You learn things never revealed to the public
One cool thing about the video lessons is that most instructors walk you through parts of their creative/training processes that you can’t see anywhere else. It’s like you’re paying $15/mo for a window into genius processes. That’s like one decent meal at a restaurant.
Like, when Steph Curry teaches you shooting off the dribble, he actually shows you how he positions his feet, hips, neck, shoulders, etc. Then he breaks down films showing you how he analyzes his defender and jukes him off the spot to create space. It’s insane and takes online learning to the next level.
When Christina Aguilera walks you through singing, she actually shows you how she records different parts of the songs with different mics and which setting they're on. Hey, Christina. Call me, please?
Ron Howard actually directs actors on camera and shows you the same processes he used to direct movies like Apollo 13, a Beautiful Mind, the Da Vinci Code, and his other Hollywood epics. It’s so practical. He shows you the same scene directed in 3 different ways. That might be worth $180 alone.
I love seeing that stuff, even if I’m never going to learn how to crossover, sing, or direct.
5. It’s super digestible so you can watch any time
Almost all the video lessons in each course have nuggets of value, and some of them are 10-15 minutes long.
Taking a break from work? Learn a new chess opener or practice a Latin drum rhythm. You don’t have to watch an entire course to get value from it. These are way more digestible than your usual online course solutions.
It’s not like Netflix either, where you need to invest 30+ minutes into an entire show. Even watching one or two 10-minute video lessons per day is enough to learn something new.
Every day when I have lunch at my desk, I try and go through two video lessons (yeah I'm trying to eat slower to control my appetite – you'll learn that in someone's master class, I bet.)
3 Things You Might Not Like About Masterclass – Consider These Before Buying
Before you drop $180, I want to make something very clear about MasterClass classes:
You have to manage your expectations.
Most people I know who badmouthed it were like, “Man, I thought I was going to become an expert from this.”
That’s not going to happen, at least not from every class.
I always tell people, “Sheila E.’s course inspired me to play drums and gave me a good starting point to work from, but it didn’t make me a good drummer.”
A lot of stuff went over my head, actually. When she was talking about how to lead a band on stage I just skipped to the end. I don’t see that happening any time soon, Sheila. Thanks, though.
MasterClass courses will give you a good base of knowledge and a clear picture of every topic plus interesting tidbits from experts. If you’re super advanced already, you’ll get more out of the high-level theories.
But, it won’t make you great at what you want to do.
Here are the 3 things everyone should consider before buying:
1. A lot of MasterClass courses will go over your head
A lot of MC is really practical, but there’s also a ton of virtuoso genius philosophy that will go way over your head. It’s interesting as hell to listen to and I find it super entertaining, but I can’t really use it.
I was super excited for Gordon Ramsay’s cooking lesson, but then it had an entire video dedicated to optimizing your kitchen layout and his philosophy on kitchen building. Then he takes you on a tour of his kitchen and how cool it is.
And I’m like, “Hey, I can’t just buy a new kitchen. Can we just get to the chocolate soufflé?”
You can tell a lot of it is designed for advanced students. Another example is Neil Gaiman’s storytelling class. He spends a lot of time talking about “world-building” and creating believable alternate realities.
Super interesting. How much do I actually understand? Zero. There's hours of video like this and it's annoying at times.
It’s definitely a good thing if you’re looking for an expert storytelling class, obviously.
2. Some of them are a bit unrealistic
I hate to pick on Gordon because I really liked his class, but it’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
He has a class teaching you how to make amazing scrambled eggs, and since I eat more eggs than any human being should reasonably consume (#GAINZ), I went there immediately.
Gordon basically just says, “You’re going to need some sea urchin and white truffle to make these.”
Oh yeah, just pop down to the corner store and pick up some $50 urchin and truffle, bro. What, you DON’T live in Beverly Hills? Sucks to be you.
Tony Hawk’s skating class was really cool to watch, but he spends a ton of time talking about his story. Then he has an entire video on “what it takes to win” where he basically just says believe in yourself and be a winner.
“Here’s how to win: Just go win the X Games, Karl. Thanks, that’s $180.”
I’m exaggerating, but that’s how I felt after watching the video. He does teach a lot of cool park/beginner tricks in the course, though.
NOTE: Most videos ARE NOT like this. Even the classes that do this still deliver a ton of practical and entertainment value.
3. The community aspect is underwhelming
I don’t expect Steph, Gordon, Christina, or any other super busy celebrity to waste their valuable time answering my questions, even if I’m dropping $180 for their course.
But Masterclass really shouldn’t make such a big deal out of their community as if it were a major selling point. Most of the community areas are dead, and some are just MC staff grasping at straws to try to make a convo. Like, “How has Gordon inspired you!?!?”
I went to the community for an economics course and it was basically just one guy ranting about “leftist” politics in the forum. Yeahhhhh, no thanks.
Don’t expect the instructors to put much time into answering questions or to give 1-to-1 feedback.
A few do have events like an AMA here and there or video responses to reader questions, but it’s rare.
MasterClass Review: A Basic Overview
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online learning platform where celebrities, business moguls, scientists, musicians, and writers teach their life’s work to students in an intimate 1-on-1 setting.
Think of it like Ted Talks meets Netflix.
Here’s the elevator pitch: MasterClass is world-renowned experts teaching you about the thing that made them famous.
It’s a library of 100+ courses from supernova individuals across a variety of topics including science, writing, music, art, pop culture, business, and sports just to name a few. Whatever you want to learn, it's probably there already and new classes are categories are being added regularly.
MasterClass is like a massive university where celeb personas each teach an adjunct course on who they are and how they’ve become successful. Along the way, you learn pretty much everything they know about their area of expertise.
How Does MasterClass Work?
Each celebrity instructor creates a course based on their life’s work that covers a few key points:
- Who they are
- The skills that made them successful
- Lessons learned along the way
- Their creative/training/thinking process
- Closing thoughts and advice for your life/career
It’s kind of like a half-memoir, half-documentary, half-instructional course (I know that’s too many halves but it’s my article) Frankenstein.
After watching 50+ lessons in a variety of categories, I can confidently say that almost every lesson delivers a lot of practical advice, interesting high-level theory, and real-time demonstration. Plus, you get awesome career advice like how to pitch a script to production studios or how to stay consistent as a pro athlete.
Once you sign up, you just choose which celebrity you want to learn from and that’s it.
Every course comes with 3 different parts:
- Videos: Each class is divided into roughly 20 – 25 video lessons, each roughly 10 minutes long. Some classes are shorter (three hours) and some are longer (eight or nine hours).
- Workbooks: Instructors provide notes, additional reading resources, homework-like assignments, and supporting materials (in pdf form) to help you study on your own. That’s all in addition to the video lessons. For example, Steph Curry provides a shot chart to track your makes and misses. I looked at mine once and haven’t shot again since. Thanks, Steph.
- Community: Instructors occasionally make videos or do AMAs for students, and MC staff respond to questions here and there. It’s a cool bonus but it’s not too active.
What is a MasterClass Like?
I’ll walk you through Negreanu’s class first to give you a sense of how it works (I don’t have a gambling problem, I swear).
Like every course, Daniel’s is divided into digestible chunks so you can watch it in your free time, jump on at lunch, or binge on your phone at the gym behind your trainer’s back.
That’s a big plus for Masterclass — the classes are structured well and divided into very clear conceptual sections and categories. This is the optimal structure for digestibility. His course roughly looks like this:
- Fundamentals: All the ABCs of the game that I THOUGHT I knew.
- Betting 101: Daniel covers the main decisions you can make on each hand—bet, check, raise, etc. and when and why to use them.
- Metagame: Daniel covers secrets that apply both inside the game and outside. Including using your image, in-game adjustments, and live “tells.”
- Poker life philosophy: money management, controlling emotions, and life as a poker player.
If you aren’t a gambling addi…er…poker fan like me, here’s an example of a basic MasterClass structure for an author’s book course:
- Writing basics (narrative structure, outlining, basic theory)
- Creating a story (characters, setting, mystery)
- High-level novel theory (creating intrigue, what all great books have in common, mistakes to avoid)
- Life as an author
See how the content builds upon itself to make it easy?
Cool, back to poker.
Daniel’s lessons start out with a pretty clear base premise: Everything you do at a poker table conveys information, and the more information you have, the better decisions you can make.
Daniel has made tens of millions of dollars from poker both live and online, and his best skill is reading others. So the whole basis of his course is teaching you his deductive reasoning process. He even adds in hand analysis from famous TV games I’ve seen on YouTube.
That makes it way more entertaining.
Basically, he’s teaching you how to use the information you get from opponents to guess their hands.
Then, in the following lessons, he slowly teaches you step-by-step how to identify and process all the checks, raises, bets, darting eyes, and fidgety fingers happening around you.
After that, he breaks down poker’s most fundamental strategies like continuation betting, check-raising, tournament strategy, cash game strategy, etc.
Danny usually uses real hands from his life to make concepts clearer. For example, he teaches that bluffing is like telling a good story, and your opponent has to believe you’ve got it. He demonstrates that in real-time with a hand he played against another poker celeb, Phil Hellmuth:
This is the main value of every lesson on the platform. One of the greats of their field explaining everything about the topic using real-life examples.
Watching his course opened my eyes to so many mistakes I’d been making. It’s like I hear his voice in my head every time I’m about to do something stupid and think, “OK, Danny says don’t do this.”
Unlike many of the more theoretical lessons, Danny’s gives you all the tools you need to start winning at poker.
MasterClass Pricing: How Much is it?
MasterClass costs $180 per year for full access to 100+ courses, workbooks, and the MC community.
There's no free trial for MasterClass but there's a 30-day money back guarantee which is basically the same thing, except you're more likely to actually give it a shot and take some lessons.
Currently, they’re running a 2-for-1 deal where you can gift the other membership to a friend, partner, random stranger on Reddit, or whoever you desire. The 30 day money back guarantee also applies to this one.
NOTE: Unfortunately, you can’t buy a single class anymore. There’s only an all-access pass.
MasterClass for Business Discount
MasterClass is a great way for employees to develop soft skills and gain some inspiration.
If you purchase 5+ annual memberships, you might qualify for a discount of up to 35%.
I personally don’t know anyone that’s used it, but it could be interesting if you have a startup and want to offer a cool employee benefit.
The only problem here is that I think MasterClass is worth the money because of the personal entertainment factor. I like just popping on some digital lessons and “hanging out” with celebrities in different categories for an hour. I’m not sure how a business could benefit from that, though. There are better platforms for developing professional skills.
The Best Way to Watch MasterClass
MasterClass is basically on-demand celebrity education (celebducation?), which is super valuable to me with my hectic life.
It’s available on:
- Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV
The app is polished and really smooth. I normally hate watching anything but YouTube on my phone, but MasterClass isn’t bad at all. It even gives you the option to listen to only audio, so it basically turns the course into a series of podcasts rather than videos – I've gone through several while out on bike rides or long walks.
Plus, you can download lessons and watch offline.
But still, the best for me is binging it before I go to bed or spending a lazy Sunday watching with my girlfriend.
It’s great for couples because there are a ton of courses that are a nice middle-ground.
I’d much rather sit and watch a celeb teach about cooking, design, fashion, architecture, or whatever than binge reality TV together like we did before.
MasterClass: Who It’s for and Who It’s Not For
I told you how I was a bit skeptical about the platform before buying it. That’s mainly because a bunch of people (and review websites) told me it was a rip-off and it costs 180 dollars…
That’s definitely not true. Don’t listen to those trolls.
I was glued to Daniel’s MasterClass from start to finish. I immersed myself in it all day and rewatched it again the next day. It was that good.
There are some segments of the population that will get a ton out of MasterClass, while others are going to think, “Why did I spend $180 on this?!”
After watching 50+ courses, I’m confident I know who it’s for and who it’s not for.
You will like MasterClass if…
You’re a Big Fan of the Instructor(s)
Spending six, seven, or eight hours with someone you’ve followed or looked up to for years is an awesome experience and makes MasterClass 100% worth the money. It’s like they’re teaching you a private class, and you learn all these little details about their lives you never would have known otherwise.
Plus, they give you advice they’ve learned from a lifetime in their craft.
I’m a huge fan of:
- Daniel Negreanu
- Phil Ivy
- Ron Howard
- Steph Curry
- Bob Iger
- Annie Leibovitz
Watching their classes was a treat. Even if you don’t learn something, you’ll enjoy “spending time with them.” My fellow fanatics will know what I’m talking about.
You Enjoy Binging Video Content
If you love YouTube, IG TV, or Netflix, you’ll love MasterClass. Plus, it’s mind-enhancing and not mind-numbing – there's classes on writing and space exploration for god sake…
It’s really easy to pop on a video and learn some quick tidbits at any time (navigation is stupidly easy). And, you won’t feel that “Oh my god, I just wasted a whole Sunday on Netflix while eating pizza” guilt you normally feel on Sundays.
And now with MasterClass’s quick lists, you can binge highlights of all different classes as if if you were binging YouTube videos.
You Like Learning Theoretical Concepts
There’s a lot of practical advice in every lesson, but a lot of the value comes from learning the theory of a field, topic, game, or high-level opinion on a certain topic.
- Neil Gaiman on worldbuilding and writing
- Phil Ivy on bluffing
- Shonda Rhimes on making it as a screenwriter (Oscar incoming…)
- Tony Hawk on a winning mentality
- Serena Williams on consistency
In these cases, it really helps that you already have knowledge and experience in a certain field. Thinking like a winner isn’t going to make you a good skateboarder, but if you know how to skateboard, thinking like a winner can take you to the next level.
You’re Into Creative Fields
Most of what MasterClass offers right now is dedicated to the arts, music, writing, fashion, and stuff like that.
I’m 100% sure anyone who’s into these fields will get more than $180 worth from their subscription. There are just too many classes up your alley for you to be disappointed. There were a solid 7-8 on just writing alone (clearly I didn't do too well).
I’m not really into creative fields, and even I found a bunch of classes entertaining, like:
- Adventure photography
- Creativity and leadership
You WON’T like MasterClass if…
Here are a few reasons you might think it’s a rip-off:
You’re Expecting to Become an Expert
Plain and simple. None of these classes will make you an expert at anything without you putting in the work. That’s not how life works and that’s not what MaserClass advertises.
Like, if you watch Hans Zimmers’ class on music for film, you’ll learn a lot of in-depth theory and get a lot of demonstration, but he’s not going to show his score for Batman and be like, “Here’s exactly step-by-step what to do.”
If you want to become an expert at something, you’ve got to put in the work.
Your Favorite Instructor’s Class Isn’t Good
I know that sounds SUPER OBVIOUS, but I heard a few friends of mine complain about all of MasterClass just because their favorite instructor’s class was a dud.
One buddy of mine was pumped to watch Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting, but stopped watching halfway through when he realized the entire class was basic screenwriting advice, most of which was available on YouTube.
Martin Scorsese’s was also kind of a dud. There just wasn’t enough meat on the bone for me and the movie junkies I know. Lots of philosophy, but not much else. More like, “editing is the most important technical aspect of movie-making” instead of “here’s how to edit your movie.”
You’re Expecting More Practicality Than Theory/Inspiration/Entertainment
I’m a practical, numbers geek, processes kind of guy. So, I loved the classes from Ron Howard, Daniel Negreanu, Bob Iger, Thomas Keller, and Annie Leibowitz. There was a ton of “do this” type content.
But most MasterClass courses aren’t like that.
Most are more inspirational, life advice, theory, philosophy, and a bit of well-earned narcissism. And a lot of the “practical” advice is just ridiculous.
Werner Herzog’s class on filmmaking supposedly had a lot of practical tips for inspiration, then I looked at the “how to find inspiration” worksheet and it said “walk 100 miles and think about what you're seeing” and “arrange interviews with prison inmates in your hometown.”
And Gordon’s recipes are great, but it’s more like “here are my recipes” rather than “here’s how to make your own recipes.” I could probably just YouTube the recipes for free.
NOTE: There are MasterClass alternatives further down the page.
Final Verdict – to Buy Masterclass or Not to Buy MasterClass?
MasterClass is hours and hours of instruction, entertainment, learning, study materials, and community interaction all for $180 a year.
That’s a steal in my opinion.
There’s a lot of fair criticism about the platform, though. Some classes are useless and boring, and a bunch are way too theoretical for my liking. But overall, you can’t argue with the price.
If it were $500 or something, then yeah I’d say it might not be worth it for everyone. But $180 for an all-access pass is 100% worth it in my opinion.
For that price, you:
- Get endless entertainment
- Get access to celebrities’ personal life experience and advice
- Can become a smarter, more well-rounded person
- Gain inspiration from successful people
- Get exposed to dozens of different fields you might not even know you like
- Learn a ton of practical advice from experts
As long as you temper your expectations, I think you’ll love MasterClass as much as I do.
3 MasterClass Alternatives
If the pricing or structure of MasterClass aren’t for you, here are 3 alternatives. None come close to the quality of MC, but they are cheaper.
SkillShare is a fairly cheap but hit-or-miss platform with little to no barrier to entry. It’s basically like the anti-MasterClass.
However, there are a few online courses with a narrow focus like illustration or animation that are great for beginners and super cheap.
It could be worth checking out if you’re just looking to acquire some basic skills.
You can find decent entry-level online courses on Udemy for about $13. But how much value are you really going to get for that little money?
Again, if you’re just interested in basic skills and don’t want to drop $180, it’s probably fine.
One big plus is that there are thousands of courses on just about any topic. The quality varies from “meh, ok” to “wow, what the hell did I just watch?”
3. Linkedin Learning
Linkedin Learning is a step up from Udemy and more targeted to professionals looking to improve their career skills.
The best thing about it is that there’s a ton of info on job-related software. For example, RedBooth or Slack tutorials or tutorials for accounting software.
100% recommended for basic, practical, and actionable career skills.
Q: Is MasterClass worth the money?
A: Yes, MasterClass is 100% worth the money. It’s $15 per month for 100+ courses from experts plus worksheets. That’s less than one dinner at a restaurant. I’m not sure why people say it’s a rip-off.
Q: Is MasterClass a rip off?
A: No, MasterClass is NOT a rip-off. It’s $15 a month for classes, worksheets, a community, and a ton of information. That’s next to nothing. A rip-off is when someone charges you like $1,000 for something that’s not what it seems. This is $180. Not too bad. If you break it down into classes, it’s even better. For example, if you watch four classes in one month, you just paid $45 each for your classes. Not bad.
Q: Can you get MasterClass for free?
A: Yes, MasterClass offers a 30-day free trial (not a 7-day free trial like other reviews say. Check the website). During the trial period, you have full access to MasterClass and all of its included materials. If you aren’t satisfied, just ask for a refund.
Q: Is MasterClass a good gift?
A: Yes, MasterClass is a great gift, especially for someone that’s interested in learning or has a particular celebrity that they love.
Q: Can I pay for MasterClass monthly?
A: No, you can’t pay for MasterClass monthly. The company used to offer a monthly membership, but not anymore. The annual membership is your only option.
Q: Who owns MasterClass?
A: David Rogier and Aaron Rassmussen own MasterClass, and it was launched in 2015.
Q: Can I cancel MasterClass at any time?
A: No, outside of the 30-day free trial, you can’t cancel your MasterClass at any time. All payments are non-refundable.
Q: How many classes do you get with MasterClass?
A: You get access to all the classes, which currently is 100+. Plus, you get access to any new courses that are created. There are a few exciting ones planned for 2023.