For me, switching from a 12-string guitar and lead singer in a 5-piece country band was strictly a business decision. We played a lot of weekend jobs, VFWs, American Legions, animal clubs, etc..., and I truly enjoyed playing in the group. We had lots of fun, but, they money just wasn't there. Those jobs payed $150 to $200 for a 4-hour performance, and after splitting the proceeds 5 ways, there was barely enough money to pay for the transportation expenses. Additionally, I supplied all of the sound equipment, so the other players only had to bring their individual instruments. I would hate to think of how much I spent on a 12-channel mixer with pre-amp, amps, speakers, microphones, mic stands, etc...
When I did my first performance at a senior center with my 12-stiring guitar, I was well accepted by the 100 plus audience that was there. I was paid $75 for a 1-hour performance and the job was just 10 minutes from home. Didn't have to split the proceeds with anyone, therefore, other than transportation costs, it was all profit.
It was only a few days later when I went to a restaurant with my wife and a duo called Carlos and Johnny were performing that night. They were setting up when we arrived, and the setup included a Yamaha PSR-500, a small mixer, two guitars, and a Peavey keyboard amp, which was fed by the mixer. They sounded fantastic, and the thing that stood out most in my mind, and that was nearly 40 years ago, was what was coming out of the keyboard. Both guys played an awesome guitar, but when the keyboard was involved, the overall performance was fantastic, and the crowd couldn't get enough of it - me included.
When they took a short break, I talked with Johnny and he showed me how that PSR-500 worked. I was so impressed that I purchased one the very next day from my local department store. The music store I frequented said he could order one for me, but his next Yamaha order would not be made for another 6 months. I couldn't wait.
Not long after the keyboard was purchased, maybe a couple weeks, I decided to take it out on it's maiden voyage. The audiences loved it, I loved it, and soon thereafter, raised my fee to $100. Not a single employer blinked when I asked for the raise. I did some advertising via direct mail, sent out some packages that included photo, CD, song list, excerpts from letters I received from other locations where I performed, and within days, the phone was ringing off the hook. I booked more jobs than I ever dreamed of doing, and the business kept growing from there. Within two years, I was up to 450 jobs a year and raised my price to $125 an hour for local jobs within 20 miles of home, and $150 for jobs 25 to 40 miles from home. Again, no one blinked at the increase, and in fact, I booked more higher paying jobs than I anticipated, and for the first time in my music career, I had to turn down jobs, which I hated to do. There were lots of doubles and even a few triples every month.
Now, all the band members never booked another job, or formed another band after I went solo. Most got out of performing music altogether, though we did some fun jams here at the Diamond Ranch a couple times a year.
I managed to make a good living as a solo performer, streamlined my setup, and saved enough to create 3 retirement accounts and purchase a Morgan Out Island sailing yacht, which I sailed solo to the Florida Keys and spent the winter of 2012 there performing at the various marinas and nite clubs. It was an exciting voyage, my wife opted not to go with me, stayed home and had a minor heart attack while I was gone. She ended up with a stent, and fortunately, had no ischemic damage. Those jobs paid all my expenses while I enjoyed the sunshine state, and the day after I returned from the trip, I went back to work full time at my regular gigs.
For me, the arranger keyboard was the best thing since sliced bread. I don't see any young people on this forum, therefore, I seriously doubt that I could get a true answer whether they would buy an arranger or not. Hell, I was over 40 when I bought my PSR-500, and by today's standards, 40 is viewed as an old fart!
Sorry for the rant, but I thought my story should be told,
(A really old fart!)