Three computers? Leilani uses one, I have two - basically one and a spare - and the spare can work for either Leilani or myself because we have all the data on all the computers.
A iPod is too slow for me, but if I used it, I'd have two. We have over 550 songs and if people are on the dance floor, I want to go from song to song as quickly as a DJ. The computer lets me do that. I can cue up the next song with one hand while the present one is playing, a couple of taps on the keyboard will do, as soon as the first song ends, I can hit "Enter" and the dancers don't have time to think about going back to their seats.
Leilani uses hers for lyrics or music chart. We have over 550 songs, but sometimes you forget the arrangement or the words for a song we haven't played in a while, or if someone comes up and requests something while you are singing (why do they do that?) having a chart helps you get back on track after the distraction.
I use two. One for the same reason as Leilani, and another that does nothing by play the mp3 backing tracks that I make myself. http://www.nortonmusic.com/backing_tracks.html
The music charts and mp3s are on both of my computers plus a flash 'thumb' drive.
I can use one computer for both mp3 and the music chart, but having both up and running makes for a near seamless switch if one gives me trouble.
And with 3 computers loaded in the van, bounced around to the gig location, quickly changing temperature and jiggling on a keyboard stand, then loaded in the van, bounced all the way home, and brought back into the house from 2 to 6 days a year for 15 years running, having only 3 failures is remarkable.
I also use ThinkPads in my studio/office. I recently retired one of my 2002 ThinkPads with one that used to be in my office. It's so old it still has IBM on the case. The screen is bigger and brighter than the old 2002 computer, so it's easier to glance at when needed.
I believe redundancy is the key to "the show must go on". I bring extra reeds, extra strings, have 2 powered speakers so if one fails I can limp through the gig on the other, 3 computers when I only need two, and since the wind synth can cover parts if the guitar, flute or sax breaks, I bring two wind synths and two wind synth sound modules.
I've been playing music for a living since 1964 and I've never had a show-stopping problem.
If you blow a gig, the word travels very fast among club owners and party throwers. The redundant gear is cheap insurance. It will cost much more to blow a gig than it does to bring a spare.
Also note that my on-stage computers have no Internet connection, and no bloatware or unnecessary apps running in the background. No office, e-mail, games, browsers, e-readers or anything else.
I use Microsoft Media Player to play the mp3s and Microsoft Write to display lyrics/chords because they are built into Windows. I use an old copy of Encore to display lyrics (with pdf backups) and I have a old non RealTrack copy of BiaB on the computer with all my fake disks just in case (although I've never had to go there). Since 2002 when I started running the computers on stage, I've never-ever had a single crash.
Playing music for a living is a lot of fun, but I take my commitment to the club, entertainment purchaser, and audience very, very seriously.
I do the same in my BiaB aftermarket business.
My philosophy is to treat my customers the way I like to be treated when I am the customer of another business. When another company treats me right, I learn from that, and when they treat me wrong, I learn what not to do.
Insights and incites by Notes