Masterclass Review 2020: Is It Worth Your Money?

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Masterclass review

Is Masterclass worth it? And who is Masterclass for?

In this Masterclass review, I share my thoughts about this online learning platform for creative professionals. I also offer tips to help you answer the important question, “Is Masterclass worth it?”

You can also watch a Masterclass course preview.

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I spent 2018, 2019, and 2020 taking Masterclass courses from writers like David Mamet, Steve Martin, and Aaron Sorkin.

In this 2020 Masterclass review, you’ll discover:

What is Masterclass?

Masterclass is a San Francisco based online learning platform for creative professionals. 

Of course, you don’t have to travel to San Francisco to take a Masterclass.

You can watch Masterclass courses using your computer or phone and consume the materials at your own pace. Just open the online class and get started.

As a student, you can learn 

  • Writing thrillers from the James Patterson masterclass
  • The art of comedy from Steve Martin
  • Filmmaking from Martin Scorcese
  • Dramatic writing from David Mamet
  • Screenwriting from Aaron Sorkin
  • Acting from Helen Mirren and Samuel L. Jackson
  • Directing from Ron Howard
  • Dance music from Armin Van Buuren
  • Gardening from Ron Finley’s Masterclass
  • Photography from Annie Leibovitz
  • Advertising from Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein
  • Mixing Cocktails, including a spin on the classic Bloody Mary cocktails from Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana
  • A cooking enthusiast can learn how to incorporate sea urchin and white truffle into scrambled eggs from a great chef in Gordon Ramsay’s masterclass. 

The list goes on. 

It is a great online learning experience from top creators you would not usually have access to.

Who Owns MasterClass?

Entrepreneur Aaron Rasmussen and film editor and director David Rogier started Masterclass in 2015. 

Who are the Masterclass Instructors?

Masterclass instructors are celebrities and world-renowned experts in their craft, from filmmakers like Martin Scorcese to advertising gurus like Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein.

Who is Masterclass For?

Masterclass is for writers, photography enthusiasts, chefs, artists, musicians, painters, and creative professionals. It’s ideal for students who are happy to learn at their own pace using a computer.

Unlike Lynda or Treehouse, Masterclass is best suited for writers, musicians, artists, and creative professionals.

This is an exciting niche.

Many of the other online courses I’ve taken help students learn business skills like marketing or a more practical skill like coding or web development basics.

Masterclass isn’t ideal for people who thrive in classroom environments and prefer a more hands-on approach from teachers.

(More on that later in this 2020 Masterclass review.)

What is a Masterclass Like?

I’ve taken a lot Masterclasses since joining.

Each instructor video averaged between five and 10 minutes, which was digestible enough for me to watch at lunch.

Masterclass lesson plan
An overview of Steve Martin’s Masterclass

I’ve admired Steve Martin’s comedy and films over the years and took his course first. In this online course, he condenses everything he has learned about the craft of comedy and draws on many anecdotes from his colorful career.

That’s a lot of insights, as he’s 72!

In the real world, it’s difficult to get access to quality materials like this.

Steve Martin’s Masterclass course contains 25 lessons. It took me several weeks to get through this course for this Masterclass review, but that’s only because I took a break when I got the flu.

Masterclass workbook
Sample lesson notes

The recommended background reading was helpful, particularly Martin’s autobiography. 

However, I got less value from the community. (More on that later.)

The online learning portal has undergone several changes recently. 

Let’s look at what’s new.

2020 Updates to Masterclass

I’ve been a member of Masterclass for several years now. Since I joined, Masterclass has rolled out numerous updates that should help students.

When I first joined Masterclass, it focused mostly on the craft of writing and the creative arts. 

These days Masterclass covers a range of categories including:

  • Cooking and culinary arts
  • Film and TV
  • Music and entertainment
  • Writing
  • Sports and games
  • Design, photography, and fashion
  • Business, politics, and society
  • Science and technology
  • Lifestyle
Masterclass categories
The Masterclass categories

The Masterclass instructors in all of these areas are high caliber and household names. 

For example,

  • Chris Voss teaches the art of negotiation.
  • Bob Iger at Disney teaches business strategy and leadership.
  • RuPaul teaches self-expression and authenticity.
  • Ron Finley’s Masterclass is about gardening.
  • Annie Liebowitz teaches photography.
  • Spike Lee teaches independent filmmaking.
  • Werner Herzog teaches filmmaking.
  • Hans Zimmer teaches film scoring.
  • Deadmau5 teaches electronic music production.
  • Aaron Franklin teaches Texas-style BBQ.
  • Stephen Curry teaches basketball.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking and communication.

Masterclass continues to regularly invest in and add new content to the learning platform so you can work through a course without running out of something new. 

Now, you’d be eager to know this:

How Much Does Masterclass Cost?

A Masterclass All-Access Pass costs $180 per year. 

With this, you can access every single class on the learning platform and any new course that launches that year.

Screenshot showing Masterclass pricing for 2020
Masterclass pricing 2020

The All-Access Pass comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee for unhappy students. 

Does Masterclass offer a free trial? 

Free Trial

They offered a trial until August 20th, 2018. This is no longer available, so your best option is the All-Access Pass.

Does Masterclass offer a discount?

No, Masterclass doesn’t offer discounts.

It’ll be interesting to see how Masterclass compares to other alternatives like Skillshare and Khan Academy in terms of price.

Masterclass pricing vs. alternatives

I picked Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, and Khan Academy for comparison.

Skillshare

Skillshare is available 

  • For free: You sign up on Skillshare with an email address, and it gives you access to every single class that is free on Skillshare mobile (iOS) and web.
  • Premium Skillshare subscription: Costs $99 for an annual subscription, and gives you access to 20k+ Skillshare classes in their premium catalog, along with other features like offline viewing. 

LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)

This portal offers a one-month free trial. An annual subscription costs $19.99 per month.

Khan Academy

All courses are free for use.

How Masterclass Works

A Masterclass course typically contains 25 video lessons. Each video lesson is between five and 30 minutes long (most are around 10 minutes long).

In some cases, the teacher speaks straight to the camera. In others, the instructor works with their students’ efforts in front of the camera. Some Masterclass video lessons also include extracts from the teachers’ works.

You can take a Masterclass lesson online at your own pace, watch them on your computer or phone using the Masterclass app.

Each Masterclass lesson comes with background material, downloadable worksheets, and reading lists to peruse. You may just find your new favorite story.

MasterClass All-Access Pass benefits

With an All-Access Pass, you’ll be able to access every single class in Masterclass, and any new course that gets added. You can watch any Masterclass lesson as many times as you’d like. 

All you need to do is 

  • Login to your account
  • Go to the class enrollment page for the course you want to enroll in
  • Click “Take the Class”
  • Click on the instructor tiles to find the enrollment pages

Workbook

Each lesson provides a workbook that helpfully summarizes the key points in each video. Plus, the workbook provides additional reading materials and provides space to write lesson notes on the craft.

Although Masterclass doesn’t offer a membership for lifetime access, they always allow users to access the lesson workbook to each of the courses they’ve taken.

The Community

Masterclass emphasizes the community aspect of its online learning. They’ve created a Hub where you can engage in discussions and ask questions about the classes with fellow students. 

You can also post some of your work.

Masterclass Hub
The Masterclass Hub

For example, one student posted his lesson notes and takeaways from David Mamet’s rules for screenwriting.

Although I spent little time in the Hub, it’s a useful resource for students who value learning from other students.

Since I joined Masterclass, the team has rolled out many improvements to the Hub.

Masterclass also features office hours. Here, students can ask their teachers questions. For example, one student, John Zucker, asked Martin how to find your voice and received a reply.

Masterclass Office Hours
Masterclass Office Hours – Masterclass Review

Unfortunately, most of the Masterclasses have only a few replies. (And, some of the responses are only as useful as YouTube comments.)

However, nothing is stopping you from recording a question, uploading a video, or even writing in.

Quick List

A specialty of the All-Access Pass is that if you pause watching a video lesson, it shows you suggestions of related segments from other courses. 

This feature is almost similar to that offered by NetFlix and is called a Quick List. Using a quick list, editors compile a few classes related to the same theme.

So, if you were watching chef Gabriela Camara’s lesson on cooking Tacos al Pastor, you may be recommended a cooking lesson from another chef. For example, a lesson on knife skills from Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass, or a Masterclass video on Sous Vide cooking by chef Thomas Keller.

Snapshots

Masterclass has a feature called Snapshots, where they present a single class or lesson from the chosen Masterclasses straight in the app. 

This will give you an idea of what a Masterclass looks like and if the teacher is right for you before you decide to invest hours of your time in a particular craft. 

One particular snapshot worth watching is Creating the Illusion of Control by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator. 

Now, let’s see if the Masterclass app is user-friendly or not.

The Masterclass App

The Masterclass app feels polished. 

Here’s why:

  • It works on an Android, iPhone, and even an Apple TV. I used it on my iPhone and iPad while researching this review. 
  • You can speed up or slow down the videos and watch the online course at your own pace. 
  • It supports closed captioning or subtitles.
  • You can select whether you want to watch a video or listen to audio. Masterclass will indicate if a particular online class is best suited to a video or audio format. It depends on whether the instructor is demonstrating something in front of the camera or talking straight to the camera.
The Masterclass app
I used the Masterclass app a lot recently

What Are Masterclasses Like?

I took “Steve Martin Teaches Comedy” first because I wanted to learn how to inject more color and comedy into my writing. I’ve no desire to become a stand-up comedian, but I’ve always admired Martin!

Next, I took David Mamet’s Masterclass because I was interested in learning from a dramatic writer, and Mamet is a writer’s writer.

He is a more direct teacher than Steve but just as knowledgeable. In the first video in his online course, Mamet revealed this gem for screenwriting:

  1. Who wants what?
  2. What happens if they don’t get it?
  3. Why not?

In between these Masterclasses, I watched some of the lessons on Aaron Sorkin and James Patterson’s courses.

I’ve watched most of Aaron Sorkin’s shows and films over the years, and I was more than happy to watch him reveal how he writes.

Later, I completed all of Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass. More recently, I took Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass and David Lynch’s Masterclasses.

As you can see, I took most of the Masterclass writing classes as this is where my area of interest lies.

Masterclass courses
Some of courses I took on Masterclass

Confused as to which courses you should take?

Which Masterclass Courses Should You Take in 2020?

Over the past few years, Masterclass has broken out into other areas beyond writing and the creative arts.

Need examples? 

Here are plenty of them: 

  • American tennis sensation Serena Williams teaches tennis as part of her Masterclass. 
  • Academy award-winning Hans Zimmer teaches film score.
  • Werner Herzog and Martin Scorsese teach filmmaking. 
  • Annie Leibovitz teaches her philosophy of photography in her photography masterclass. 
  • Chris Hadfield teaches space exploration.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches scientific thinking.
  • Garry Kasparov teaches chess. 
  • Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy) teaches TV writing.
  • Stephen Curry teaches basketball. 
  • Herbie Hancock teaches jazz.
  • Jimmy Chin teaches how to take breathtaking shots in his adventure photography masterclass.

And, herein lies one of the other issues with Masterclass.

It’s hard to imagine a student will have an interest in all of these Masterclasses, no matter how great the topics are.

So while I found the writing classes useful, I’m unlikely to learn country music from Reba McEntire anytime soon, no matter how talented she is.

If you’re a writer, consider how well you know James Patterson’s works and if you want to write thrillers before you sign up for his class.

While you could take the “James Patterson Teaches Writing” Masterclass without knowing much about his books, you will learn far more if you’ve read some of his thrillers.

So, which Masterclasses should you choose?

Should you learn about writing fiction like Neil Gaiman, making a BBQ like Aaron Franklin, adventure photography like Jimmy Chin, or pick up a skill like cooking from chef Gordan Ramsey?

Start by exploring the classes by structure, by discipline, or by topic.

A writer, for example, should take the following on Masterclass:

You’ll get tips and advice about writing your story, and you will hear in Malcolm’s lecture that your account will surely change as you continue to develop it. After these classes, writing thrillers will no longer look like a feat.

Meanwhile, a musician looking to advance her skill set is more likely to take “Deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production”, “Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz”, “Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing”, or “Usher Teaches the Art of Performance.”

If you’re still unsure about what Masterclass to buy on this online learning platform, ask yourself, “Do I like this teacher and his or her materials?”

After this video, I review my preferred Masterclass courses.

Reviews of 6 Great Masterclasses

These are six masterclasses that inspired me in many ways.

1. David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor Review

I’ve read several of David Sedaris’s books over the past few years, including the popular book Me Talk Pretty One Day and his 2018 book Calypso. I enjoy David Sedaris’ essays and the way he always inserts color and humor into personal stories. 

So I was delighted to see he’s released a Masterclass where he gives insights into his writing process and into how he finds ideas for his stories.

It’s 13 classes long and covers topics like David’s influences, how he became a writer, his revision philosophy, and how he starts and ends stories.

David reads extracts from his work aloud in this Masterclass and, in a bonus lesson, narrates an entire essay. 

In this Masterclass, David speaks straight to the camera in a casual and laid back manner and talks about his influences. He also introduces his sister.

She talks about David’s writing and how it impacted their family life, which was fascinating to hear about. 

David struck me as a likable guy, but I was particularly interested to hear about some of the sacrifices he’s made during his writing career. For example, he explains about all the late nights out that he skipped and the parties that he didn’t go to so he could write his essays. 

He also talks about what it was like to get rejected as a young writer and eventually find a book deal.

Verdict: If you’re interested in writing stories or colorful pieces, Sedaris’s Masterclass compliments what Steve Martin teaches.

2. Steve Martin Masterclass Review

I took this Masterclass at the end of 2017, before writing this review.

I was familiar with Martin’s comedy. I’ve read his autobiography Born Standing Up and watched a lot of his stand-up shows.

Martin was a teacher I could learn from.

In his Masterclass, Martin talks about how to find your comedic voice and how he writes and delivers jokes.

It was fascinating to hear Martin talk about his early days in comedy and how he got started. The comedian also provides several practical takeaways. For example,

“Don’t be intimidated starting with nothing. In fact, if you start with nothing, the workaround can lead you to originality.”

Martin’s workshop includes materials from aspiring comedians and turns some 5/10 jokes into 9/10 laugh-out-loud jokes.

This Masterclass was a fun insight into how the comedian Steve Martin approaches comedy writing. He also reflects on his career on stage and screen.

Each lesson was relatively short and included supporting PDFs, reading materials, and next steps. Martin is an engaging instructor too. If you take this class, I’d recommend reading his book Born Standing Up, so you have some context to what he teaches.

My biggest takeaway from Steve Martin’s Masterclass was how he learned to make peace with his failures and successes. He says:

“It was only until the late 80s, I kept thinking I was going to go away. But I never went away. So why am I wasting all that grief? I survived somehow by the skin of my teeth. Some of that is luck.”

Verdict: I recommend taking this masterclass if you want to improve your comedy writing skills or are a fan of Steve Martin’s work.

3. Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass Review

I took the Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing Masterclass almost as soon as they released it earlier in 2018.

I write a lot of non-fiction and am a big fan of Gladwell’s work, including his books Blink and Outliers.

Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass is structured similarly to Steve Martin’s. I learned a lot about how Gladwell approaches his research and how he markets his writing and books. (Tip: don’t over-rely on Google!)

My biggest takeaway is what writers put out into the world doesn’t belong to them once they press publish!

Gladwell said he found himself in a curious position when others often misconstrued the book’s ideas and arguments.

He added,

“Once you’ve written something, it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your readers. When your readers buy your book, they really buy your ideas and your ideas become theirs.”

Verdict: I recommend taking this Masterclass class if you want to improve your research and non-fiction writing skills.

4. Neil Gaiman Masterclass Review

I started taking this writing Masterclass class earlier in 2019.

Amusingly, it’s set in a secluded cabin in the woods.

What better place to write a great novel than somewhere holed way from society with no interruptions?

Ok, so that’s not real life, but I enjoyed the look and feel of this class.

Anyhow, in the first lecture of the Masterclass class, Gaiman sums up exactly why I like Masterclass.

Gaiman is a professor of the arts at Bard College in New York, where he lectures about writing. Gaiman teaches 24-26 students a year, which he “loves.”

However, through Masterclass:

“I can say the same things that I would say to them to millions of people. I know there are millions of people who want to write because they come to me and they ask me…I try and answer those questions on Tumblr and on Twitter and on my blog. [Masterclass] just seems to me like an incredibly efficient way to say everything I have to say to everybody.”

Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling contains 19 lectures that cover everything from writer’s block (a myth!) to editing to the rules for writers.

The classes average between 14 and 25 minutes long. They also come with downloadable PDFs, writing exercises, and supplementary reading materials.

For example, one exercise in this Masterclass class offers the following task to students:

“Choose a page of writing you did recently—or use the story you rewrote in the first writing exercise of this chapter—and condense it by at least a third. If necessary, rewrite it completely, imagining a more economical way to tell the story.”

Verdict: If you want to write a novel or hone your storytelling or just enjoy Neil Gaiman’s baritone voice and ideas (what writer doesn’t?), start here.

5. David Lynch Masterclass Review

In 2019, Masterclass released this course with David Lynch. Each lesson in this Masterclass averages between fifteen and twenty-five minutes in length.

Although I’m not a filmmaker, I was interested to hear where Lynch, director of films like Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, gets his ideas from.

David Lynch’s Masterclass is shot in a film studio that looks a little like one of his offbeat films (with creepy music and all).

Lynch is an upbeat teacher with an intriguing insight into the creative process. The Masterclass is broken up with snippets from his films and TV shows and art.

He covers topics like:

  • Catching Ideas
  • Creativity and the Writing Process
  • Staying Through to Your Ideas

Verdict: David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film had less downloadable materials and PDFs than other Masterclasses. However, I particularly enjoyed his bonus lecture about the power of transcendental meditation, even if he was short on specifics about how to get started with this practice.

6. Aaron Franklin Teaches Texas-Style BBQ Review

In 2019, I traveled to Austin, Texas. The queue for the famous Franklin’s BBQ restaurant was over 90-minutes long. Over there, I tried beef brisket. 

When back in Ireland, I took this Masterclass out of curiosity. I learned what goes into a good BBQ, what wood to use, and how to cook a decent steak on a grill. Franklin prepares and cooks in front of the camera and even cracks open a beer at one point.

Verdict: It was a great course, was fun, and a good alternative to the writing classes I usually take. 

Now, what did I like and dislike about Masterclass?

Pros and Cons of Masterclass

Here’s my view on both sides of the coin.

Pros of Masterclass

While writing this 2020 Masterclass review, I felt inspired to watch many of these great professionals talk about the creative process, their techniques, art, books, and more. In some cases, they were condensing a lifetime’s experiences.

Masterclass emails
It was nice to Steve to get in touch!

Masterclass videos are also produced first-rate and are of high quality.

They are shot in high definition and tightly edited. If you’ve taken online courses, you know the quality of each Masterclass video and lesson materials vary. That’s not something you need to worry about here. Masterclass aims to become the Netflix of e-learning.

This online learning platform regularly adds new materials from people at the top of their game, like the great course “Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing”, which I immediately added to my watch list.

In 2019, they launched two brand new classes – Will Wright Teaches Game Design and Theory and Jodie Foster Teaches Filmmaking.

However, they did remove “Dustin Hoffman Teaches Acting”, a great course in which this Oscar-winning actor gives you all of his best acting techniques.

Some of the best Masterclass courses for writers include:

The best part?

Each online class and lecture is unique to the techniques and methods of the instructor.

For example, Margaret Atwood includes a speculative fiction case study of the story A Handmaid’s Tale, while Dan Brown includes a character case study of the Da Vinci Code.

I also liked the Masterclass App for the iPhone. It was easy to use, and I was able to save lessons as favorites, adjust the playback speed, and watch them over a cup of coffee at lunch.

Masterclass resources
Masterclass resources

Compared with other creative courses, Masterclass is also affordable. For example, you can spend thousands of dollars on an MFA. Or you can spend several hundred dollars taking online writing classes. With Masterclass, you can start learning for as little as $180 a year.

Cons of Masterclass

The creators of Masterclass are going after a broad audience.

In some cases, I felt like the teachers were speaking to many people with different interests. Some of the classes felt like the teacher was riffing on the topic.

I’ve taken several in-person writing classes, and although I’m a believer in online learning’s power, it’s difficult to replace the one-to-one feedback you can get from a teacher in a classroom environment.

Unlike some online courses, Masterclass doesn’t allow users to download any video lesson.

Still, for just $180 a year, I can’t complain.

Takeaway: Masterclass is a complement to, rather than a replacement for, other kinds of learning.

But, how does it compare to other alternatives available today?

Masterclass vs. Some of the Alternatives

I compared Masterclass with three of its competitors.

A. Masterclass vs. The Great Courses

The Great Courses offers college-level courses from noted professors and lecturers. 

I’ve taken several of their courses over the years including:

  • How to Listen to and Understand Great Music
  • Great Masters: Beethoven – His Life and Music
  • The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Great Intellectual Traditions

I took these classes as I was researching my book The Power of Creativity and wanted to learn more about Beethoven (he’s featured in my book).

The Great Courses also offer several writing and storytelling courses.

  • Like Masterclass, you can buy individual Great Courses from their site for approximately $39.99. They also offer a dedicated app.
  • Unlike Masterclass, you can also purchase from Great Courses as part of your Audible annual subscription.
  • Masterclass features celebrity instructors and creative professionals like Neil Gaiman. The Great Courses, on the other hand, features lecturers and academics who you probably won’t know.
  • The courses in Great Courses are more academic than those offered by Masterclass.
  • The courses on Great Courses are also much longer. A typical lecture on this online education platform is 35 to 40 minutes. I purchased one course from them that was over 35 hours long! A Masterclass lecture, on the other hand, is usually around five minutes long while the entire class takes an hour or two to complete.

B. Masterclass vs. CreativeLive

CreativeLive is an online education alternative to Masterclass for bloggers and entrepreneurs.

  • CreativeLive offers more courses. 
  • Masterclass also covers topics like DJing with Roger Sanchez and cooking with chef Gordon Ramsay, which you’re unlikely to find on CreativeLive.

For more, read my CreativeLive review.

C. Masterclass vs. Udemy

If Udemy is the supermarket of online education portals, Masterclass is the Michelin restaurant.

  • Udemy offers bargain-priced courses that cover everything from entrepreneurship to psychology to creative writing.
  • Anyone can create and sell a course on this online education platform. This means their materials vary in quality. Master class, on the other hand, features only celebrity instructors. They cover fewer topics than Udemy, but the quality of their materials is higher.
  • Udemy also regularly discounts its courses, much like a supermarket. For example, I searched for writing classes on this online education platform and found several dozen discounted, even over 90%. On the other hand, Master class rarely has a sale.

And, if you’re a writer, Masterclass is an ideal investment in your craft.

Here’s why:

Masterclass for Writers

On this online education platform, you get access to dozens of hours of training from writers across genres and industries. And, the library of courses is regularly updated. I typically take one new Masterclass for writers course every three months.

This online education platform is targeted at creative professionals and breaks up the classes into several areas, including music and entertainment, photography, culinary arts, sports, and games.

They also have a dedicated section for writing classes.

At the time of writing this 2020 Masterclass review, this section includes 12 writing Masterclasses. These are

  1. Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling
  2. Dan Brown Teaches Writing Thrillers
  3. Margaret Atwood Teaches Creative Writing
  4. R.L. Stine Teaches Writing for Young Audiences
  5. Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing
  6. Judy Blume Teaches Writing
  7. David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
  8. James Patterson Teaches Writing
  9. David Sedaris Teaches Storytelling and Humor (my next course for this review)
  10.  Joyce Carol Oates Teaches the Art of the Short Story
  11.  David Baldacci Teaches Mystery and Thriller Writing
  12.  Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry

You’ll also find a specific niche topic like writing for TV in a course by Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy).

With an all-access pass, you’ll have more than enough top writing classes to last the entire year.

Now for the million-dollar question:

Is Masterclass Worth It?

Over the past ten years, I’ve taken writing classes in a traditional classroom environment taking notes in a physical workbook, participated in weekly writing groups, and taken several online courses on topics like blogging. I even studied journalism in college.

In other words, I’ve tried lots of different kinds of online and offline learning classes to enhance my planning method and writing process.

Each style has its pros and cons. What you get out of them depends on how much time and money you can invest and what kind of learner you are.

Is Masterclass worth it for creatives? 

Yes. I recommend Masterclass to writers and professionals who utilize the creative process but are on a budget.

Pick one course from Masterclass.com and see if this method is right for you.

The All-Access Pass is useful if you plan to take more than one class this year, though it is a yearly Masterclass subscription and does not give you lifetime access. If you don’t like the online learning platform, just take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee and not choose the Masterclass subscription.

For a modest amount, you can invest in your craft and learn from current experts and Hollywood icons without spending thousands of dollars in a fancy MFA.

Masterclass is also useful for creative professionals who are further along in their careers but want to keep up by learning from the masters of their professions.

Whether you are a chef looking for new ways to use white truffle, part of a band of musicians interested in dance music, or a writer seeking a lecture on writing thrillers, Master class has a variety of courses to offer, each with a workbook for your benefit.

Think of it as a blend of YouTube, a structured online education platform, and NetFlix – you get a great learning experience that is highly entertaining as well!

Got questions about this 2020 Masterclass review? 

Ask me below.

Try Masterclass

Questions About Masterclass

Can I watch Masterclass on my TV?

Yes. Use a Google Chromecast with the Masterclass app or the dedicated Apple TV app.

Can I watch Masterclass on an Apple TV?

Yes, Masterclass has a dedicated app for 4th Generation Apple TV devices.

How long is each class on Masterclass?

Some of the older Masterclass lectures last for five to ten minutes. A class lasts one to four hours. You can adjust the playback speed of a lecture. The newer ones, like Neil Gaiman’s, are longer. One lesson I took was approximately 30 minutes.

Is there any writing Masterclass for children?

R.L. Steine teaches how to write for young audiences.

Does Masterclass offer classes in basic programming or coding?

No. They emphasize softer creative skills, like writing, music, cooking, and so on.

Why is Masterclass so expensive?

Arguably, it’s not. An All-Access Pass for 2019 cost me €150. Many online classes cost between €297 and €2000. I renewed in May 2020.

How can I cancel Masterclass?

You can cancel via your account settings before your All-Access pass expires. They also have a 30-day refund policy.

Masterclass Review: Summary

Name: Masterclass

Description: Learn from creative professionals at the top of their game, at a pace that suits you. 

Find out more

  • Production quality
  • Affordability
  • Relevance of course materials
  • Ease of use
4.63

Masterclass 2020 Review Summary

Masterclass is worth it if you want to learn from creative professionals at the top of their game, at a pace that suits you. The materials are first-class and you’ll learn a lot.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Offers access to top-level creators, writers and artists
  • Includes succinct materials
  • Produces high-quality video
  • Posts new courses regularly
  • High-calibre instructors
  • Excellent Masterclass mobile app

Cons

  • Not all classes are relevant to everyone
  • Technical students should stay away
  • Community forums are hit and miss
  • Students need an affinity with their teacher

66 thoughts on “Masterclass Review 2020: Is It Worth Your Money?”

  1. Michael J. Yong

    Thanks for this information! I am strongly considering taking Samuel L. Jackson’s Master Class on acting to supplement my current education(Part-Time).

    This article gave me some great insights!

    Regards,

    Michael J.Yong

    1. Hi Bryan,

      I agree with Michael J. Yong, you definitely shared some really great insight on this review. I’m feeling a bit more confident about joining Master Class now that I’ve read your review. However, I do have a few questions, is there any hidden costs? Also, were there any creative or professional blocks you’ve experienced before taking these classes that you felt were resolved afterwards? Lastly, I didn’t quite understand what you meant in the cons for “technical students should stay away,” what did you mean by that?

      Thanks,
      Isaiah J. White

      1. There are no hidden costs. You can buy a single class or just buy the annual package. For technical students, I meant that Masterclass isn’t the place to learn skills like coding or Photoshop. It’s more suitable for creatives e.g. writers.

        The Steve Martin Masterclass gave me some useful pointers for injecting colour into some articles I’m writing. I also liked hearing about David Mamet’s struggles as a writer and how he overcame them. Malcolm Gladwell’s non-fiction course helped me resolve an issue I have with using popular research in non-fiction articles.

        1. If anything, I’d say that the courses aren’t “technical”, but that “technical students” should definitely get into it as technical stuff is often very highly creative! Not to mention there’s no such thing as a “technical student”, just a person who wants technical material. Everyone can and should learn to write better (communicate) and interact with humans (acting) and feeding oneself (cooking)… etc.

  2. Hi Bryan,

    This is really an honest review of the Masterclass program, and I really love how sincere you are here.

    Funny enough, I don’t think I’ve heard about Masterclass before now, and from all you said here, it seems to be a very useful and informative stuff to check out.

    One of the most interesting things about the whole program that I love is it’s price. I think it’s very much affordable judging by what one stands to get from the class. When I started reading the review at first, I was expecting that the price will be anything from $599 upwards, but seeing $70 is entirely mind blowing.

    However, i do understand that most people are often not willing to invest in education, and that is unfortunate. This is a program for anyone looking to become good at writing.

    If I’m going to take any of the classes here, I’ll first go for James Patterson Teaches Writing, I’ve known that name for a long time now, and I’m sure his class will be super epic.

    Overall, the Masterclass is worth investing in, and I’ll encourage every aspiring writer to check out the program as he will definitely get a lot of things out of it.

    I’m also going to share this post right away with my audience. Thanks for sharing Bryan.

  3. Bryan, It is evident that your website uses affiliate links. You should disclose that. It is only right that people know that you have a financial interest in them purchasing a subscription. The FTC has very clear guidelines about this. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the laws.

      1. Hi Bryan, i’m curious to know if adding clarification to the post has helped you to get more or less uses through your referral link?

        I can only speak for myself but knowing that you have provided a quality review for us and me being half way there already to signing up for Masterclass means the chances the me kindly helping you out are very high. Just waiting for them to release an Android version of their app!

        In any case cheers for giving your thoughts.

  4. Absolutely valuable. Really glad I paid for the full set of videos. Learning from a range of different writers, and other skilled professionals. kev

  5. I saw an ad for Masterclass on YouTube. A Google search led me to your review. It was very helpful. The All-Access pass seems to be the best deal. Three lessons in a year make it a deal.
    I appreciated you listing cons. I wanted to know the possible downside. My Mother wrote a children’s book and has been struggling with finding focus, inspiration and direction for her next book. I think I may get her an All-Access pass as a gift. I might get myself one too. 🙂

  6. Thanks for the review, I am still on the fence rather this would be a good fit for me. I have been in the Information Technical field for nearly 20 years and still struggle conveying some of my ideas and thoughts to those less technical in a way that is more palatable. I have no aspirations to becoming a professional writer.

  7. Hi Bryan!!

    It’s a great review you have done there. Can I get 100$ Bonus by subscribing the free trial for directing instead of writing??

  8. I feel like just because you are a technical doesn’t mean you should stay away. Certainly there’s no right or wrong but if you’re a camera operator or video editor there is still A LOT you can learn from these courses

  9. Thank you so much for this detailed review. I’ve been considering the Masterclass for a while now, and have not seen any review quite as apt as yours. I’m Nigerian and this would be a really heavy investment on my part since the value of our money keeps dropping. So please I ask again, is it truly worth it?

    1. It’s a great way of accessing materials from creators at the top of their game. How else can you learn from Steve Martin for example? However, if money really is an issue you could buy their books on Amazon which are cheaper than video courses.

  10. Hi! Thank you for the feedback 🙂 Quick question: do you get a sort of diploma or certificate saying you completed the course? Thank you!

  11. Hi Bryan
    Quick question, do you know if you purchase a single class do you have access permanently? Or as long as the site exists more likely?
    Right now I can see two classes that would be interesting, Neil Gaiman and Dan Brown.
    I hope that if I purchase these classes individually I just have access to them period. Rather than the yearly subscription.
    I’m just afraid at some point the site will say sorry we don’t offer that class anymore.
    Can you cast some light on that.
    Thanks

    1. As long as the site exists. You can’t download the videos to your computer to go. The is to avoid piracy I’d say.

      I’d recommend taking one first and seeing how you like their learning style. Then consider the All Access pass.

  12. Thank you for this post, it absolutely pushed me over the edge to sign up for the All-Access Pass.

    My understanding from the FAQ are:

    Any individual class you buy for the $90 is a “lifetime” access purchase [to your point, as long as they remain in business/keep the site up]

    If you then buy the All-Access path, they discount the first year by the price you paid for an individual class -“That’s why we’re having past purchases go towards your first year of All-Access Pass.”. So you can buy the class you are most interested in and if you like it/want to take more classes, then you get the first year for an additional $90, as opposed to $180.

    https://masterclasshelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115013792328-All-Access-Pass-Frequently-Asked-Questions

    I hope this helps others that are facing the same decision!

    Ralph @ BiteSeeing

  13. I came across your post, which is really amazing to me. A quick question please. Is there any class is good for travel writing such as blog posts,itinerary, destination guide?

  14. Hey Bryan,

    That’s and amazing post and so much about MasterClass. I was looking to start a course for MasterClass for writing. I am still confused about the pricing. Can you tell me what’s the pricing for this whole course?

    1. Hey Finnich,
      You can buy a MasterClass All Access pass for $15 a month, billed annually. That way, you can access all of their writing classes. That’s what I did. If that’s out of your budget, you can buy one writing MasterClass for $90.

  15. MaryAnn Sinnhuber

    Hello. I posted a few minutes ago and remember that I was supposed to get a workbook with the Billy Collins MasterClass and DID NOT, and actually, I was given no instructions. My credit card shows that you received my money. Please advise. Thank you. M.A.Sinnhuber

  16. Hi.

    Purchased the master classes with Aaron Sorkin and David Mamet. I was incredibly impressed with both men and their ability to share insights on their craft. I wasn’t as impressed when both lessons start up fine, then die. Are these lessons time sensitive? Thanks for listening, al

  17. Thanks for all the tips mentioned in this article. It’s always good to read things you have heard before and are implementing, but from a different perspective. keep up with the good content.

  18. Christine White

    This review convinced me to start a MasterClass in the near future. I do have to comment and alert you to the fact that there are several typos and grammatical errors in this piece of writing. I’m only telling you because you’re in the writing business. Editing, to me, is always difficult with my own work, but of course I can see everyone else’s mistakes. I can’t wait to take one of the writing courses!!

  19. I love the whole concept of master class and would love to be a part of it. Great source of information provided for a colorful career. I agree, that it is difficult to get hold of the quality material provided in the real world. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure people are going to benefit from this master class..

  20. It was good to know about the special features of the Masterclass. It will be really helpful for users to learn courses online through video format as it can be understood well. moreover, there won’t be any time limits to learn. Thanks for sharing an informative blog.

  21. Hi, thanks for your insight to the courses.
    I am thinking of purchasing a masterclass but am wondering how long the lessons will last. Will they expire? Thanks

  22. Unfortunately I’ve had a bad experience with Masterclass. I clicked a Google Ad for a Buy One Gift One and I thought, hey that sounds great we can take classes together and talk about the experience. I clicked the ad, went to the site, paid for the gift and then went to see my access. I didn’t have access but the gift recipient did. I contacted support and they have just given me the runaround. I had screen shots of the ad, screen shots of the FAQ – no luck. I called customer service to escalate, they said someone would have to call me back. Crickets… they need a Masterclass on customer service.

    1. ADDedValue_62

      Curious to hear if they ever resolved your access issue. I was just about to pull the trigger on this until I read your comment.

  23. Thanks for this review. I hav some questions:

    – Can one ask the instructors questions? (and would one get answers?)

    – Does the yearly subscription include all and any course available in masterclass?

    – Is there a multi-year offer option?

    Thanks again!

    1. You can ask questions in the forum, they have replied to a few lucky students!

      It’s yearly.

      Yes, you can access any class. That’s what I have. I renew every year.

  24. I took your class tonight in Arizona and tried to sign up for the Masterclass twice so that I could enjoy the free items but it just never worked out for me!😭😭😭

  25. Joanna Paula L Cailas

    Hi, thanks so much for this review. I’m researching whether this is worth it and you’ve answered almost all the questions in my mind, save one: do all the videos have captions? I’m deaf and I need captions/subtitles. Thanks!

  26. Great review–I have two questions:

    1) Did you ever answer find the answer for the question raised by Lee, the person who shared their problem with the Buy One/ Gift One subscription promotion? I was considering this offer but was put off by the subscriber’s experience.

    2) Does the purchase of a yearly subscription allow one to watch the selected course more than once?
    And/ or to pause and resume watching? Thx.

  27. Hey Bryan.
    Like you mentioned the focus on the large audience. Your the first person to mention they took Dustin Hoffman off.
    They also took Kevin Spacey of. I even wrote a angry letter to them regarding Dustin. I think they are shooting themself in the foot because who wants to learn only from perfect people? I think it’s wrong of them to take someone like Dustin Hoffman off, it’s shows their judgement is based on popularity and not on moral motivation.

  28. This review convinced me to start a community in the near future. I’m only telling you because you’re in the writing business. Editing, to me, is always difficult with my own work, but of course I can see everyone else’s mistakes. I can’t wait to take one of the writing courses. https://urstartup.in/

  29. CLASSES ARE NOW REDUCED!!!

    When buying subscription You don’t get an information that now lessons are cut in half!

    While watching Aron Sorkin’s masterclass I’ve realized that I have access only to 13 lessons. In the overview it says I’ll have access to 35. Now there are also no lessons in writers room with students which I’ve watched when I bought this master class few years ago.

    Reducing lessons in half is a big disappointment considering that I subscribed mostly to see Aaron Sorkin’s 35 lessons including working in writers room – that part for me is the most valuable part of his MasterClass and when buying a subscription I was assured by your overview description that I will get access to them.

    The same thing I experience regarding Dan Brown’s MasterClass which promises 19 classes and actually I have access only to 12.

    In other words we are not getting product We were offered in the description and that is cheating :/

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