What is an Outro?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2019
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Many pop songs destined for radio airplay feature both an instrumental introduction and an instrumental fadeout, known in the entertainment business as an intro and an outro. A well-produced outro gives the song a satisfying conclusion so the next song's intro is not jarring to the listener. Sometimes a song, particularly a classical piece or vintage standard, will feature a definitive tag or extro instead of simply fading out. The "shave and a haircut" ending to barbershop quartet music would be considered a tag or outro, for example.

The outro of a pop song allows the disk jockey enough time to announce the name of the song or artist, identify the station and/or introduce the next song with an underlying sound bed. Some songs, such as the Eagles' "Hotel California" feature very long outros with extended guitar solos and a gradual fade. Other songs, such as the Romantics' "What I Like About You," end more abruptly, an effect known as a cold outro. Songs with cold intros and outros may require the disk jockey to fill in the gap with on-air patter or a pre-recorded musical jingle.


An outro generally follows the final chorus of a pop song, and may or may not retain the opening structure of the song itself. The extended outro of Lynyrd Skynyrd's anthem "Freebird" is more of a twin lead guitar jam played in a faster tempo than the gospel-tinged verses and choruses. The outro to Cream's magnum opus "Badge" features a piano-and-guitar duel which repeats and expands on the piano riff heard throughout the song.

Other outros are created during the editing phase, not the performance phase. The outro to the Beatles "Hey Jude" is a gradual fade-out of the band and others repeating the simple but effective "nah nah nah, NAH NAH NAH NAH" chorus while Paul McCartney drives the song with ad libbed shouts and shrieks. Because the performers were in such a groove, the song itself could have continued until everyone collapsed from exhaustion. Instead, the engineers created a more radio-friendly outro by fading the song out at its peak.

Not all songs have or even need extended outros, but many songwriters understand the needs of the broadcast industry and make efforts to provide a satisfying conclusion which would segue more or less seamlessly into the next song on the radio or at a dance party.


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Post 3

Why do disc jockeys feel free to cut long outros? "Hotel California" has a great outro, as does "Layla." Why cut them only to get onto another song? There must be thousands who have never heard the end of those songs because of what? At least these jockeys don't work for classical music stations. They'd be cutting the whole piece, in that case.

Post 2

The "outro" isn't only designed for the purposes of radio play. Often times it's the culmination of the song's buildup and is meant to have the most impact. Think of U2's "With or without you". The outro on that song is by far the best and most emotional part.

Other times the outro is the chorus (with all the bells and whistles thrown in) repeating over and over until it fades out - giving the sense that the song never really ends. This approach is much more pleasant, in most cases, than a hard, abrupt ending. But of course it depends on the song. Note: DJs talking over a song's outro is one of the most irritating things about pop radio

. While it's understood why they do it - to keep things moving - it's frustrating when they're yapping over what in most cases is the best part of a song. Even worse - often times the outro or "vamp" is cut off all together by station programmers so that they can squeeze more songs into a playlist. Not a big fan of that practice either.


Post 1

Intro/Outro also applies to pre-recorded beginnings and endings for commercial breaks and other such routine interruptions, usually these are just voice recordings.

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