Hitmaker Timbaland is the latest artist to join MasterClass, an online learning platform that’s tapping into the expertise of celebrities, industry leaders, and newsmakers to offer on-demand classes for busy professionals hoping to learn a new skill or hobby.
Timbaland’s course, released last month, focuses on producing and beat-making, something the Grammy-winning rapper and producer has mastered over the years, as the man behind the boards for artists like Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce. Most recently, the Mosley Music Group chairman, who just announced a new label deal with Def Jam, contributed to well-received new albums from Mariah Carey and ZAYN.
Timbaland’s 15-lesson MasterClass features video and audio lessons on everything from the elements of beatboxing, to layering vocals, harmony, and texture. The course also includes an introduction to audio engineering, along with stories of how Timbaland created some of his most memorable hits, like Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” and Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” The course also includes two new songs and stems that students can use to craft their own remix, or use as a foundation for their original beats.
“People always ask my process, what I do, and how I do it,” Timbaland says, “and MasterClass gives me the opportunity to share that knowledge. I want to give all that I can to aspiring musicians and that’s what I came to MasterClass to do.”
Timbaland is just one of more than a dozen musicians teaching on MasterClass. Other popular courses include Christina Aguilera teaching singing, Herbie Hancock teaching the elements of jazz and musical improvisation, and Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer teaching film scoring.
Each course is comprised of an average of 24 lessons, with each lesson taking about 10-12 minutes to complete. Course materials can be downloaded for offline reading, and students can log onto the site 24/7 to view the instructional videos, or take their learning to go with the MasterClass app. The site says their goal is to not only provide people with access to top talent, but to make it as unintimidating and convenient as possible.
MasterClass joins a number of other online learning sites that are hoping to capitalize on musicianship. Udemy is among the most affordable of these sites, with music theory and “learn to play” classes starting at just $10. For more serious musicians, Coursera offers a number of songwriting and production classes in conjunction with the renowned Berklee College of Music (see full selection here). While MasterClass is counting on its celebrity cache to attract customers, Coursera courses are taught by instructors from universities and educational institutions around the world. The site also offers accredited online degree programs in business, computer science, and data science.
As for MasterClass, the site currently has more than 50 different course offerings. A single class costs $90, though there is also a $180 unlimited pass that gets you instant access to all the courses on the site. Offerings currently include everything from Serena Williams teaching tennis, to Natalie Portman on acting, and an adventure photography course from recent documentary feature Oscar winner Jimmy Chin (who took home the Oscar for directing the climbing epic, Free Solo).
Other classes worth noting: a campaign strategy and messaging course from David Axelrod and Karl Rove, who reach across the aisle to discuss how they respectively got Barack Obama and George W. Bush elected to the White House.
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