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There’s a plentitude of information available on the internet these days. From YouTube to Instagram to countless informational blogs, websites and online resources there’s seemingly no end to the access we all have now to the answers we seek, and topics we didn’t even know we’d be interested in. If you’ve ever found yourself down a rabbit hole of Wikipedia pages about how dams are made, how a plane flies or what really happened to Amelia Earhart, you know what I’m talking about.
With this information superhighway coming at us from all angles, it can be hard to decipher what’s worth our attention and what’s fluff we can let pass us by, like a leaf in a stream. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a consolidated database of materials constructed by only experts? Perhaps only by… masters of their craft? Hopefully you’ve caught on to this not-so-subtle lead in, we’re talking about MasterClass.
I’ve been a member of MasterClass for close to two years now, and while it takes some discipline for it to become a regular part of your routine, it’s a worthwhile subscription if you’re a lover of learning. Keep reading to hear my full review.
What is MasterClass?
MasterClass is an online learning platform filled with digital courses from experts and masters in a wide range of fields from cooking and space travel, to business entrepreneurship and comedic writing.
They’ve compiled the wisdom of well-known masters like Steve Martin, Malcolm Gladwell, Dr. Jane Goodall and Judd Apatow. Each person teaches an aspect of their craft and guides the learner through modules related to that topic. The classes are engaging, informative and include personal stories and anecdotes from the person’s life to liven up the lesson and add to the intimacy of the experience. They’re also long! Some classes are multiple hours and are split up into 6-20 minute lessons so you can fit them into your day relatively easily.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to sit down with Gordon Ramsay and learn how to make pasta? Or take a photography lesson with Annie Leibovitz? It sounds like a dream opportunity and at only $180 for an annual all-access membership it seems like a bargain relative to the potential opportunities gained from this invaluable information.
So, is it worth it? Will you actually use it? That’s the question I hope to answer with this review.
I reviewed MasterClass based on the following, very similar criteria that I use to review streaming services:
- Quality of Content
- Library Design and User Interface
- Video Playback
- Discovery Features & Search
If you’re looking for my detailed verdict, skip to the end. If you’re a sucker for technical details and love to do all your research before splurging on something? First of all, kudos, we’re cut from the same cloth. Second of all, let’s dive in.
Quality of Content
I can’t review MasterClass without starting with this criteria. The quality of the content on this platform is superb. Have I taken every class they offer? No, but the ones I have taken — Judd Apatow’s, Jane Goodall’s, and David Sedaris’ — have all opened my eyes to new material and been very entertaining at the same time.
One thing I will say, is that the classes I’ve taken have felt more like a conversation with the expert about their career than an actual instructional session with concrete data. They’re super engaging, and you do learn, but the masters aren’t spilling all of their formulas and secrets, if you know what I mean? If you’re looking to learn a trade, I’d recommend a service like SkillShare. If you’re looking to be inspired by an expert walking you through their brain, buy MasterClass.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by MasterClass, 87% of respondents felt they had learned something on the platform they were excited to tell someone else, and 88% felt that the classes had made a positive impact on their life.
Library Design and User Interface
The MasterClass library is superb. I have almost no complaints here. It’s cleanly laid out, it’s easy to select a class and return to ones you’re in the middle of. You can make playlists, bookmark articles, browse any category and watch trailers before starting every class. It’s a very intuitive interface.
The colors and themes of the platform are darker, so you feel like you’re in a college lecture hall rather than watching a blogger’s YouTube video. This adds to the professionalism, but can also be a little disengaging at the end of a long workday, while you’re sleepy on the couch.
I’ve never had a problem with video playback in the MasterClass library. Every video in a given course flows seamlessly into the next, and when you log back into a class you can pick up right where you left off. Unlike other, more elaborate streaming services I’ve never had a buffering problem and never struggled playing, pausing or rewinding in a given course.
Discovery Features & Search
MasterClass thrives in this arena. The homepage is filled with opportunities for discovery in many forms, from trailers for full courses to grouped individual lessons in topics like “Risk Taking” “The Influence of Others” and “Eggs.” In these sections, they’ve hand-picked particularly juicy videos from different master’s courses, and added them up so you can learn from different instructors about a certain theme.
Search is not as obvious, but it is available at the top of the homepage. You can search based on instructor, topic or whole classes, and save your findings for later.
How Much is MasterClass?
The price is $15 per month and it’s paid annually, not monthly. So you are dolling out a solid chunk of change before getting to sink into the product. However, one could argue that a higher price point will motivate you to use it more, since you can’t cancel after two months of charges.
It’s less expensive than buying a book every month, and for the breadth of content and quality of instructors that you get with that annual fee, I believe it’s worth it.
MasterClass Review: My Overall Verdict
If you’re a person who’s always seeking to learn about new things, always down to explore a totally new topic and finds yourself on random research hunts anyways — MasterClass will suit your propensities well.
If you’re a disciplined person who finishes a book until the end, can stick to a goal or form a new healthy habit easily — you’ll have an easy time fitting MasterClass into your lifestyle.
If you’re an adult who misses learning a little bit? Who wants to spend their time online productively and dive into topics you otherwise might not spend time thinking about? You’ll enjoy what MasterClass has to offer.
However, it’s a subscription that could very easily go unused if you don’t prioritize it for yourself. It’s also something you can get a lot out of if you make the time for it. But, if you’ve already got a solid regimen of book reading, post-work hobbies and prestige TV watching, it might not grab your attention enough for you to put down those things.
Do I use it less now than I did when I first subscribed? Yes. Is it still useful when I want something to throw on while I clean, put together miniature models or cook? Absolutely.
A Few More Subscription Details
They’ve got lessons from 100+ of the world’s best and brightest that you can access anywhere at any time. They’re always adding new classes to the mix, and even host live classes on occasion that members can RSVP to.
They also just launched a new program called Sessions by MasterClass, where members can learn “by doing” and pick up meaningful skill sets from step-by-step guidance over the course of 30 days. Masters include Joanne Change who focuses on baking, Maurice Harris who guides users in designing floral arrangements, and Chris Voss, former FBI hostage negotiator who teaches winning workplace negotiations.
Take the time to invest in worthwhile digital content, you might learn something that could change your career path, mindset, or perspective on the world.