PRODUCT REVIEW

Alicia Keys MasterClass Review (2021): Is it Worth it?

Kevin Kessler
November 3, 2021

Alicia Keys MasterClass review synopsis

What you’ll learn: In the Alicia Keys MasterClass, you will learn the ins and outs of songwriting and storytelling through music. You’ll also learn how to produce music both from the sound booth and the control room.

How long does the Alicia Keys MasterClass take?: The Alicia Keys MasterClass lasts for 3 hours and 22 minutes

Similar courses: St. Vincent, Tom Morello, deadmau5, Neil Gaiman

Do I recommend Alicia Keys’ MasterClass? Yes, I recommend the Alicia Keys MasterClass. Her passion and empathy bleed through with every word she speaks. She makes the songwriting and production process come alive.

Get started now on the Alicia Keys MasterClass

Have you ever spoken to someone who is so passionate about what they do that you can physically feel it? That’s every moment of the Alicia Keys MasterClass.

Alicia Keys sitting at her piano to open up her MasterClass
Alicia Keys sitting at her piano to open up her MasterClass.

Keys makes the songwriting and production process come alive by discussing how she has created memorable musical marvels that will stand the test of time.

But you need more than passion and talent to be a good teacher.

So the question now becomes, is the Alicia Keys MasterClass actually worth your time?

In this in-depth review, I’m going to break this entire course down for you, give you both the good and the bad, and make a final recommendation at the finish line.

Disclosure: In the interest of full transparency, Codeless uses affiliate links in our MasterClass reviews to cover our site’s costs.

Our Verdict

No matter your experience level, there’s something you can get out of this MasterClass. Alicia Keys breaks everything down in a way that’s easy to understand and, above all else, inspirational.

Alicia Keys MasterClass Become a great songwriter and music producer

$15 /month
  • Very humble and upfront about how teaching is new for her
  • Good variation of clips and sceneryin genius, unconventional way
  • Filled with her music
  • Very real and excited to be here
  • Very hands-on. She’s sitting at a piano and plays
  • Brings it all back to how she wrote specific songs
  • Shows both songwriting and production
  • The production section focuses on both the recording booth and control room
  • Highlights an up and coming artist as they have a songwriting workshop
  • She talks too fast for the 2x speed if that’s how you like to watch these classes
  • The course workbook doesn’t really contribute to the class
A series of images from the Alicia Keys MasterClass
Alicia Keys Overview

A few frequently-asked questions…

Do I need a subscription to access this course?

Yes, you need a MasterClass subscription to take the Alicia Keys MasterClass.

How long is the MasterClass?

The Alicia Keys MasterClass is composed of 19 videos totaling 3 hours and 22 minutes in length.

Does MasterClass have a cancellation policy?

All MasterClass subscriptions have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Is the Alicia Keys MasterClass worth it?

Yes, the Alicia Keys MasterClass is worth the price of a MasterClass subscription. If you’re an aspiring songwriter and music producer, you’ll get a lot of amazing information from this course that can set you on the path to a fulfilling career.

Get started now with the Alicia Keys MasterClass

About Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook. She is a singer, songwriter, and actress who started as a classically trained pianist. She first began composing original songs at just 12 years old. Three years later, she was signed to her first record deal.

Her debut album, “Songs in A Minor,” was released in 2001 and was a hit both critically and commercially. Her first hit single, “Fallin,” sold over 12 million copies worldwide.

She is one of the world’s best-selling music artists, moving more than 90 million records globally.

Since 2002, Keys has received a whopping 29 Grammy nominations, of which she won 15.

How much does Alicia Keys’ MasterClass cost?

The Alicia Keys MasterClass comes included with any MasterClass subscription.

There are three levels you can subscribe to, all of which are billed annually.

A pricing list for MasterClass Memberships
MasterClass plans and pricing
  • Standard Plan: The Standard Plan is $15 per month. With this subscription, you can take classes from any MasterClass using one device at a time. Each class comes with a workbook. There’s also bonus content, including a members-only community forum.
  • Plus Plan: This level costs $20 per month. It includes everything you receive as part of the Standard Plan. You’re also able to access classes on two devices at the same time. Videos of your classes can be downloaded for offline viewing if you’re using an iOS device.
  • Premium Plan: The Premium subscription costs $23 per month and is great for families or businesses. You’ll get everything from the Plus Plan, plus the ability to watch classes on six simultaneous devices.

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What is included in the Alicia Keys MasterClass?

Runtime: 3 hours and 22 minutes

Course Value: 5/5

Lessons: 19

Supplementary materials: Workbook

Supplementary workbook

The workbook for this course is very different from the other MasterClasses I’ve taken. Typically the book is a supplementary resource that you can use to follow along with the lessons and refer back.

The Alicia Keys workbook, however, really has nothing to do with the classes themselves. It’s more about Alicia Keys and her journey.

The workbook for the Alicia Keys MasterClass
Alicia Keys’ MasterClass workbook.

This is all great information. It has a ton of images, visual aids, and is a genuine joy to read through.

However, it doesn’t provide supplementary information for each lesson. In that respect, this is one of the (very) few areas in which this class falls short.

The MasterClass Hub

When you take the Alicia Keys MasterClass, you also get access to the MasterClass hub, a community forum where you can discuss the class and subject matter with other students.

The hub for the Alicia Keys MasterClass
Alicia Keys MasterClass Hub.

When perusing this specific MasterClass hub, you’ll find reactions to specific lessons, advice from other aspiring songwriters and producers, and general discussion about Keys and her career.

A complete breakdown of the Alicia Keys MasterClass curriculum

The Alicia Keys MasterClass has 19 different chapters or lessons. The first several sections deal with the songwriting process, and then it moves into music production — both from the recording booth and the control room.

Curriculum:

  1. Meet Your Instructor
  2. Alicia’s Musical Foundations and Influences
  3. Start With Melody and Lyrics
  4. Alicia, the Songwriter
  5. Bring All the Elements Together
  6. Connect to the World Around You
  7. Songwriting With Empathy
  8. Alicia, the Producer
  9. Vocal Arrangements
  10. Build Energy in the Booth
  11. The Anatomy of an Anthem
  12. Alicia’s Retro-Futuristic Sound
  13. Alchemy in the Control Room
  14. Instruments to Boost a Big Sound
  15. Creative Collaboration
  16. Sisterhood in the Music Industry
  17. Rising Artist Spotlight: Joy Nesbitt’s “Echo”
  18. Power and Purpose
  19. Always Be Learning

Course summary:

Music is emotional, and you get that sense from Alicia Keys from the very second her MasterClass begins.

This was the total opposite of the deadmau5 MasterClass, where he talks about being completely emotionally disconnected from his compositions.

Alicia Keys breaks the songwriting process down for you entirely based on emotions and energy.

Alicia Keys in the recording Studio
Alicia Keys in the recording studio.

It was honestly refreshing and made me feel passionate about the subject matter.

Another thing I feel the need to point out is that Alicia Keys seemed happy and even honored to be there instructing people.

Some celebrities (deadmau5) are practically rolling their eyes through their MasterClass, giving the impression that they’d rather be literally anywhere else. That’s not the case at all with Keys.

While this MasterClass has 19 chapters, you can break it down into two distinct sections: songwriting and song production.

1. Songwriting

Keys teaches you her method for writing music but quickly points out that there’s no right or wrong way to go about it.

Alicia Keys in a clip from her music video for Fallin
Alicia Keys in a clip from her music video for Fallin.

If you’re taking this songwriting MasterClass, you’re probably a big fan of Alicia Keys and her 15 Grammy Awards. That’s why her approach here is so effective. She takes songs that you know and love — the music she has topped the Billboard charts with — and shows you her writing process as it pertains to these pieces.

She walks you through her process for “Fallin,” for example, and it’s a huge story about how she pulled from her emotions during her first real relationship to get the inspiration she needed.

Whether you’re trying to express your personal feelings or the horrors of racial injustice in America, there’s a story within you that you can pull out and put to music.

2. Music production

The second part of Keys’ MasterClass centered around music production. You get to see her in both the recording booth and control room, creating specific vocal arrangements.

This really stresses how important it is to learn both sides of the music business if you want to succeed.

Alicia Keys giving a hands on demonstration by playing the piano
Alicia Keys gave a hands-on demonstration.

Perhaps the best part of this section is when Keys lets you into a conversation with a rising artist Joy Nesbitt as the two brainstorm ideas for Nesbitt’s song, “Echo.”

This never feels staged or corny, and comes off as a real conversation between a mentor and mentee as they work together to form what could eventually become a hit song.  

What I learned

Music has always been very important to me, as has writing. Alicia Keys really captures the essence of both these passions in her MasterClass.

I was really happy with the storytelling approach she takes when songwriting, and it sometimes felt more like I was back taking Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass.

Let’s go through some memorable takeaways and quotes from the Alicia Keys MasterClass.

10 takeaways from this MasterClass

1. Classical music is the foundation for modern songwriting:

Keys talks about how several classical composers inspired her, including Chopin and Bach. She believes that legendary arrangers like Isaac Hayes and Quincy Jones listened to classical music as a source of inspiration.

2. If you can find the right feeling, then you can find your way to a song:

She often doesn’t know how a song is going to go when she starts writing it. She never writes herself into a box. Instead, Keys follows her emotions to create something beautiful.

3. Only you have what you have:

The way you put your words together is unique to you, and once you realize that, it’s empowering. That’s why it’s important to freestyle and improvise and not be afraid to be who you are.

4. Sometimes you really have to dig for a song:

It took Alicia Keys over a year to find the lyrics for her song Diary. It started with a melody, but she couldn’t find the words or emotions. She was trying to connect it to one of her favorite books, “The Bridges of Madison County,” but that wasn’t clicking. Instead of giving up, she kept at it until she had a fully fleshed-out hit song.

5. Songwriting is a form of literature:

Her inspiration comes from books and poems and a love of literature. These literary works taught her to look at things differently than other songwriters and really think about prose.

6. Inspiration can come to you when you least expect it.

Inspiration doesn’t always hit when you sit down to write. The idea and inspiration for her first hit song, “Fallin,” came to her while she was driving. Alicia had to pull over to the side of the road to record into her phone and write things down.

7. Songwriters need empathy

She wrote “Perfect Way to Die” to speak about social matters and racial injustice. She says that a songwriter has to empathize with the struggle to express difficult, painful, and big ideas.

8. Good sound should be rebellious

Most of the music she makes is rogue and rebellious, and no one thought it would work. Sometimes you have to make a different sound than everyone else to create something special and get noticed.

9. Your energy is important when recording

If you’re recording with bad energy, it’s going to bleed through into the final product. You have to stop a recording session before your energy turns.

10. Embrace how special you are

In the Neil deGrasse Tyson MasterClass, Tyson makes the case that no one is special when compared to the cosmos itself. Alicia Keys disagrees — she believes that everyone has something to say and to share with the world. Everyone is special.

Get started now with the Alicia Keys MasterClass

Memorable quotes from this MasterClass

“We are about to talk about how to access everything that’s inside you to create a song.”

– Meet Your Instructor

“I’ve written many, many songs, hundreds of songs. But every time I don’t know how it’s going to happen.”

 – Start with Melody and Lyrics

“There are no rules. There are no right ways. There are no wrong ways. It’s all right, and it’s all magic, and it’s all you.” 

– Start with Melody and Lyrics

“I think songwriting chose me, as far as I can recall. And I chose it, ‘cause, you know, if something chooses you, you gotta choose it back.”

 – Alicia, the Songwriter

“I allow myself to play. I really try hard to be free. I really set the environment so that I can be free.” 

– Alicia, the Producer

“My secret is you always leave when it feels good. You stop before it starts to feel like it’s not going that well. Because that energy retains itself.” 

– Build Energy in the Booth

“I also have learned that the power of no is even huger. It’s huger than anything else, the power of no and claiming your space and knowing when something’s not right for you.” 

– Power and Purpose

“I think the minute that you think you know what you’re doing with a song, that’s it, you’re finished.” 

– Always Be Learning

Alicia Keys Masterclass pros and cons

There are plenty of positive points to the Alicia Keys MasterClass, and very few drawbacks.

Let’s take a look at all of the pros and cons of the Alicia Keys MasterClass in the following sessions.

The pros and cons of the Alicia Keys MasterClass

Pros

There’s so much to love in the Alicia Keys MasterClass. It’s just shy of three and a half hours of pure joy.

Here are a few of the things I loved about this class:

  • Very humble and upfront about how teaching is new for her
  • Good variation of clips and scenery
  • Filled with her music
  • Very real and excited to be here
  • Very hands-on. She’s sitting at a piano and plays
  • Brings it all back to how she wrote specific songs
  • Shows both songwriting and production
  • The production section focuses on both the recording booth and control room
  • Highlights an up and coming artist as they have a songwriting workshop

Cons

There’s not a whole lot to criticize about the Alicia Keys MasterClass, but there are a few nitpicky things I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out.

Here are some of the cons of the Alicia Keys MasterClass:

  • She talks too fast for the 2x speed if that’s how you like to watch these classes
  • The course workbook doesn’t really contribute to the class

Do I recommend this Masterclass?

I absolutely recommend this MasterClass. It’s a fun and emotional look into the mind of a musical genius.

No matter your experience level, there’s something you can get out of this class. Alicia Keys breaks everything down in a way that’s easy to understand and, above all else, inspirational.

I could not recommend this class enough. If you’re interested in writing and producing music, do yourself a favor and sign up now.

Take the first step on your road to being a successful songwriter with the Alicia Keys MasterClass